The head of the paid media optimization platform talks about lead generation, the convergence of B2B and B2C, and why consumers should not be crammed into a funnel:
“Our new Audience Based Advertising has now launched and is going to make a huge difference on the way companies in the space of B2B and B2C high-consideration-purchase generate demand through paid media. On the behalf of Paragone and the entire Perion Network family, I want to thank the entire LinkedIn team for supporting this integration! We couldn’t have done that without you!”
Despite the speed of the marketplace and the power of new technology, Shai Alfandary believes successful marketing is all about delivering an impeccable customer experience. The digital experience must be as personal and informed as a visit to your local store, says the GM of Paragone, a platform that drives growth through optimized and innovative paid media campaign management.
“In a perfect world, when you walk into a physical store you want someone to welcome you, offer you a cup of coffee, recognize you if you’ve been there before, understand your needs and then offer you something that’s right for you,” says Alfandary.
“In the digital world, it’s no different. Customers should have a fluid, personalized experience. When you land on a website we should welcome you, be conversational, maybe already know who you are, where you’re visiting from, and what sort of products or services you’re looking for.”
Key to this is developing Conversational Marketing – data-powered tools that will interact naturally with customers, greet them personally and engage them in a meaningful, specific conversation. Alfandary says the companies mastering this technology will lead the next wave of customer experience software.
1. Real interactions and conversational advertising
But it’s not just on a brand’s .com where these exchanges can take place. This sort of hyper-personalization using natural-language AI can begin at the start of the customer journey. “At Paragone, we look at it from the paid-media angle,” said Alfandary. “Brands should be exploring how to have these natural, personalized interactions from the moment a customer is served an ad. There are a few companies doing interesting things in this area, such as Drift and Qualified.com, moving away from the notion of using a bot, which is really there to serve the company more than the customer. How do you make these interactions feel more like a real, personal experience? That’s what interests us and what will drive the next phase in marketing and sales technology.”
Alfandary highlights the clunkiness of traditional lead generation, with customers requesting information, filling out a form, and being qualified manually before being passed to a sales team. “With our vision of technology you can advertise to a target group and while they’re looking at the ad they are able to chat with a sales rep. The ad can identify the customer, open a conversation, start to directly address their needs, and provide a solution, which is pretty ground-breaking. It’s taking the real-life experience and bringing it to the digital world, not creating artificial funnels that only serve the operational aspect of the business.”
2. B2B and B2C – the convergence is now
These deep, data-driven tactics are not exclusively for the B2B world.
“When it comes to high-ticket items, what we call a ‘high-consideration purchase,’ there’s no real difference between B2B and B2C,” says Alfandary.
“If you walk into an Audi dealership, the salesperson needs to understand who you are, what you need, whether you’ve bought before, whether you’ve had a test drive. That’s a B2C purchase, but the sales experience resembles B2B. eCommerce companies are a bit different because you might be dealing with very low-cost items, but if you’re selling luxury, if you’re Louis Vuitton or Breitling – and we specialize in this category – you want to know as much as you can about your customer and address their personal needs.”
According to Alfandary, LinkedIn is the network best suited to this shift. “LinkedIn knows what you do, has an idea of your private wealth, your connections, and so on, so it has the ability to play in both worlds. That’s why Paragone works with LinkedIn, because we see the B2B and B2C high-consideration purchasers behaving in the same way. That’s true for marketing automation, that’s true for CRM, and I think it’s also true for advertising as well.”
3. Busting the sales and marketing silos
While many industries have seen increased alignment between the Sales and Marketing functions, Alfandary notes that this is yet to happen in the advertising world. “On the sales side, you have an SDR, a Sales Development Rep, whose emergence throughout the last decade bridged the gap between Marketing and Sales. But that was done mainly in email marketing. When it comes to paid media, the silos remain. Performance or growth marketing is very technical. It’s 50% data science, so it’s often being outsourced to an agency. This creates a very distributed, siloed structure with two teams that don’t sit together, don’t use the same technology, and aren’t under the same umbrella.
What we do at Paragone is bridge that gap and get both Sales and Marketing looking at the same objectives in the paid media world. Marketing can connect directly to the funnel and dynamically advertise to accounts, leads, and even users across channels. But there’s more to it…”
4. Power to the (right) people
Alfandary compares this to the shift in email marketing that occurred when companies such as Outreach.io empowered sales teams to use email as a dedicated tool. “What outreach.io did in email marketing, we are doing in paid media. We’ve built a product that allows the sales rep or the SDR to generate demand through paid media, across channels, while the budget, the messaging, and the creative stay under the control of the marketer. Our customers can distribute this capability to the entire sales organization so they can nurture leads and opportunities or even generate new leads using a channel that hadn’t previously been accessible to them. Democratizing the ability to advertise allows even the product teams to run campaigns and find their product-market fit. This is a huge shift in the paradigm of work!”
It’s about giving power to the people, says Alfandary. But to the right people who understand the customers and their needs. “This powers the company’s performance and ultimately helps to give the customer what they want – which is good for everyone.”
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