Pini Yakuel

In today’s market, consumer data is key. But data optimization achieved by machine learning and artificial intelligence is even better, according to Pini Yakuel, founder and chief executive officer of Optimove.

The ceo said retailers and brands can increase engagement with consumers by optimizing data instead of taking a broader approach. Indeed, Yakuel said that “generalization” of data is simply an ineffective approach in marketing.

Yakuel’s firm works with more than 250 brands, including companies such as Stitch Fix and Glossier. The genesis of the company began with a few questions raised eight years ago: “Is it possible to completely automate relationship marketing? Can I have only machines doing this whole thing?”

The founder said the obvious answer is no, but in searching for a solution, Yakuel discovered ways to help companies “move at the speed of your customers.” That means getting marketing departments to “better utilize technology to become CRM masters, to get a lot more done.” And to do it accurately and with precision — as an antidote to generalization, he noted.

“As a society, we pay the price of generalization in many places,” Yakuel said. “If you think about medicine, we get treated based on a statistical cohort, right? We belong to a specific group, and we show a few symptoms, and we get treated. But there’s so many false positives. And as society gets more risk averse, we pay more and more the price of generalization.”

Getting lumped into a “statistical cohort” also occurs in consumer marketing, and Yakuel said engagement and conversions can be improved by data optimization. The ceo said the process of data science is clean and factual, but to execute optimization in retail and fashion, the approach needs to be married with the art of marketing. Yakuel sees this merger creating more relevant marketing campaigns, which he calls “conversation starters.”

“And the more meaningful, and accurate, and sensitive those conversations are, then you have a better chance to create intimacy with your clients, which will win loyalty, and win higher lifetime value,” Yakuel said.

The ceo went on to describe various types of conversations and ways of testing campaigns, which include looking at clusters of consumers in a data set. “If I find a cluster of customers, or VIPs who are predicted to churn, I can start a conversation. And I want to start a conversation with these consumers because it’s very important for me to retain them. So the data science actually helps me to find this exotic cluster of customers that I didn’t know existed otherwise. And I can then start a campaign around that.”

In the current landscape, consumers are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages a day. Yakuel said in order to succeed under these conditions, “and to prevail, we need a combination of man and machine, and we want to put the marketer in the center of it.”

“We want the AI, and the optimization, and the technology to compliment the marketer, and make the marketer work a lot better,” Yakuel said adding that the firm’s Optibot is designed to do just that.

“The marketer can just go into the system in the morning, and the system combs through the data, finds opportunities, opportunities to run new campaigns, opportunities to improve things you haven’t done, and opportunities to make changes,” he said. “The marketer just clicks on button, and these changes happen automatically, kind of like a concierge.”

The ceo said that AI is used to find opportunities as well as helping marketers conduct experiments to hone the effectiveness of campaigns. And this can be done in “micro segments.” The result? Engagement and conversions that can see improvements in “hundreds of percents.”

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