“Chris Matty has been involved with numerous early stage technology ventures, in the Internet, Mobile and SaaS industries, where he has held executive positions including GM, CMO, SVP of Sales and Business Development and VP of Corporate Development.”
Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here; what inspired you to start an IT company?
Chris: I’m CEO and co-founder of Versium. I’ve been involved in technology businesses and internet related businesses since the mid-1990s when the internet really took off. During that time, I’ve seen numerous transformations, many driven by the development of new, advanced technologies. With the explosion of data and the internet, at Versium we’re asking: how do you maximize the utilization of all this data—especially as it applies to marketing.
The inspiration for Versium came from some consulting work I was doing with a large radio conglomerate. They were launching a deal of the day service they called ‘sweet jack’. Back in the day Groupon and Living Social were all the rage. Everybody was getting great offers in their inbox. True story: I got an offer for Brazilian wax from a salon about an hour away from where I lived. I’m obviously not the best candidate for a Brazilian wax.
So, the spark was that marketers could do a far better job targeting who’d most likely engage with their products and services if they could leverage data insight and predictive modeling. We tested the idea and drove a 60% plus improvement in response rates.
That was the inspiration. We learned we could take data, apply mathematical modeling and help marketers substantially improve their marketing ROI. Fast forward to today and we’re starting to drive 300-to-400% improvements in marketing efficiencies using advanced AI modeling, and vast volumes of data that we own. Not 250 columns of demographic data but 22,000.
How do you see the IT market and in particular your market evolving over the next few years?
Chris: A big trend that we see is that at the end of the day data technology is designed to add value to the organization. Today there’s an explosion of marking apps, in fact, there’s too many marketing apps. We see consolidation coming for some of these apps because there’s lots of companies that are just features but operating as companies. So, I think there’s going to be a considerable shakeout of businesses as the consolidation of all these marketing apps occurs.
We’re also seeing that the people who are operating these technologies are selling them into marketing departments versus IT. And IT and the CMO are working very collaboratively to make decisions on which solutions they’re going to utilize; versus just the IT folks making the call. It’s becoming much more collaborative to ensure that the problems that the marketers are looking to address are being effectively solved with the IT solutions.
We think there’s going to be consolidation of all these thousands of marketing apps into more platform solutions that deliver that value. And IT will be working much more closely with marketing to ensure that the specific needs of the marketing organizations are being met by those technologies.
What do you see is the single most important trend or development that’s going to impact us in that area?
Chris: When you consider how Versium is using data and that we’re seeing 3X and 4x improvement in reach and 350% improvement in ROI—then for every marketing dollar spent in the marketing channel, marketers are generating that much more revenue. With these types of data technologies improvements, its game-changing. This is not evolutionary. These are revolutionary changes in terms of that level of benefit.
And it is delivering huge value to organizations. They’re effectively using data technology to transform unusable, old, outdated prospect data into something that works.
So, companies that embrace these new data technologies to drive highly data-driven marketing are going to see massive gains, and they’re going to win. And the people who don’t are going to lose.
This is why Amazon is dominating ecommerce. Because they’re a data technology company. They’re using data and data technologies with advanced modeling, AI and machine learning to drive their customer experience. To drive their promotions of who buys–of who should see which offers, to grow their business. And they’re dominating. Whereas, companies like Toys R Us are going out of business.
So, I think the single most important trend that we see is, if you are using data technology effectively to build a highly data-driven marketing organization, you will beat your competition—by great margins.
What do you see is the biggest challenge that CEOs need to take or tackle to make information technology work?
Chris: This is a great question because there’s all sorts of technologies that management will sign off on because of some promise that the technology claims to deliver.
Take marketing automation. I read recently that 80% of most features available in marketing automation are not even used. A robust tool set is purchased just to send out emails for example. To get the full value of the technology, CEOs need to:
1) Make sure they understand what problems the functional departments are trying to solve
2) Make sure those are high priority problems
3) That solving those problems will yield significant benefits, and
4) Ensure that the solutions being put in place to address those problems are being embraced and being utilized. If they’re not, then they’re wasting dollars on a technology and not getting the value.
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack from an IT perspective?
I like the concept of Slack, which allows you to communicate with different work groups internally. It effectively allows you to broadcast knowledge or information more effectively than email because email boxes get so cluttered and so full of junk. Slack is a great way to have efficient communication with your teams. It creates a lot of efficiencies within the organization.
Relative to Versium, what is the core software technology capability, and where does your product fit visa vie in the customer lifecycle?
Chris: Good question. We help marketing organizations become highly data-driven, and we offer a suite of tools and solutions to enable that. A key theme in everything we do is automation.
1) We help make data more actionable, meaning we improve the quality of data. Data is a mess—40% of CRM data is old, outdated, and has data entry errors. We improve it through a suite of automated tools that clients can upload via a file or they can send data via API that we’ll cleanse and standardize by filling in missing attributes e.g. you might have a first name and last name in an address but not have an email. We own a lot of data and we’re able to improve the quality of an organization’s existing data through automated capabilities.
2) We also deliver rich insights that help clients understand who their customers are at a much more granular level e.g. their behavioral characteristics, so they can more effectively understand who they are. These insights help in personalizing messages, so they resonate much more closely.
3) Then we use modern, AI technologies and scientific learning models to predict who’s most likely to buy and engage. This optimizes targeting.
These are the components we define as becoming highly data-driven. And all three have the common theme of automation, which enables us to deploy these solutions cost-effectively.
As far as where Versium fits in the customer lifecycle:
- We absolutely play at the beginning of the lifecycle when customers are being acquired and new products are being promoted
- Once a customer is found and you develop a relationship with them, it’s important to understand who they are. At that point we help with cross-selling and upselling to maximize that lifetime value and improve their experience.
- Later in the life cycle we use analytics to understand things like churn and help prevent churn.
So, becoming highly data-driven starts with customer acquisition all the way through to retention. And obviously, we put a lot of effort into the front side of that in terms of the acquisition because new customer acquisition is so valuable to an organization.
This summer you made a couple announcements in the media. Talk to me about those and any other news you want to give us a sneak peek into.
Chris: One of the more interesting things is we’re one of the only companies that has vast volumes of both business and consumer demographic data: who a person is, their title, their skills, what they do, as well as the consumer perspective. A person maybe a marketing vice president from 9 to 5 and a soccer mom in Suburbia that drives an SUV and owns a condo from 5 to 9. Overlaying and cross-indexing those personas can be very valuable.
This is important because digital marketers in the B2B world have not been very effective at using digital display advertising, and social to effectively promote their capabilities. This is understandable when you think of the ad tech arena and the billions of dollars that are spent with online ads—whether it’s social or broader publishers, most are targeting consumers simply because the targeting parameters are mapped to consumer entity data—the cookies and the mobile IDs, and the way that the ad tech platforms are able to target the browser based upon who the consumer is, is mapped to a consumer data elements not business personas.
So, if you want to market an email server to an IT decision maker, and all the targeting parameters are tied to the consumer personal email, how do you find the business decision makers?
With our ability to overlay consumer data on top of business data, we’re frequently seeing 4x increases in reach. This means marketers can reach their target audience through broader digital and social. This is important because if you’re trying to ID decision-makers, and you want to target a hundred thousand, if you can only reach a small fraction the marketing effort is not going to be very effective. Whereas if we can extend the reach by 4x, you significantly increase your audience size, and your ability to spend marketing dollars in digital and social to much more effectively reach your target audience.
We’re seeing some dramatic increases in advertisers reaching their business decision making audience applying this audience extension capability (extending it with consumer data). And we think this is going to unlock lots of marketing dollars and spending. So, we’re seeing some really great things that we’re collaborating to build business audiences and targeting within the DMP world which has been primarily been B2C advertisers.
There’s been a massive explosion of IT across so many categories. We’re interested in your take on that and do you see competition and opportunities to partner and/or integrate in your space?
Chris: Earlier I mentioned that that there are lots of companies that are really features delivering a point solution. So, we think there’s going to be a lot of consolidation. Ultimately, you are either the platform or you need to plug into the platform to distribute your capabilities.
And there’s a new concept evolving called CDP (customer data platform). We think this is going to become much more powerful, and even more broad in scope in an enterprise than the CRM.
It’s a very crowded space, and I think you’re going to see consolidation, you’re going to see integration into a smaller handful of platforms and those companies that effectively do that will thrive. And the ones that think they’re going to stand alone as an individual solution are going to run into some considerable resistance.