Listrak and Persado recently announced a strategic integration, combining Persado’s AI-generated marketing language with Listrak’s automation and analytics platform. Sounds like a winning combination. So, what’s in it for marketers? In this edition of The state of Marketing, we checked in with Persado Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Development & Partnerships Nicolas Chammas.

Tell us a bit about Persado.

Persado was born out of the concept that the precise words you choose to interact with your customers matter even more than generating the right offer at the right time for a given customer. Our AI technology combines machine learning and our Marketing Language Cloud - the largest database of marketing language in the world that boasts nearly 1.5 million tagged and scored words and phrases - to generate marketing language that best resonates with any audience, segment or individual across any channel.

Imagine having a data scientist and a copywriter for each person in your audience; you get the language that drives engagement and analytics that explain why, resulting in more business and unique and powerful insights. This allows brands to increase acquisition and retention while building long-term consumer relationships.

Chart showing revenues from the artificial intelligence for enterprise applications network worldwide from 2016 to 2025 in millions of US dollars
AI is a trending topic in all industries. But when you look at these numbers, it’s easy to understand why. Companies are expecting to increase revenue from AI substantially. Image courtesy of Forbes.  

Why did you decide to team up with Listrak?

Our customers use our technology in conjunction with their email service provider (ESP) to help them deploy optimal content using Persado's AI platform. We’re always listening to our customers to learn about other technologies they’re leveraging and how we can better integrate with these tools.

Over the last year, we have had more and more customers requesting that we integrate with Listrak. In Listrak, we found a unique partner who shares Persado’s vision that leveraging AI to better personalize content will become the industry standard in marketing. We are very excited to partner with the team in bringing our unique joint solution to market.

How do you see brands benefitting from this partnership?

This partnership benefits all customers looking to enhance their B2C marketing efforts. The combination of Persado + Listrak allows customers to seamlessly leverage AI to generate the best language and message for any brand’s customers at both the audience and segment/individual level.

If you had a magic wand - what is the one thing you’d change in the digital marketing world, and why?

Get rid of all the noise around AI and machine learning in the marketing world. Prior to joining Persado, I was an investor focused on enterprise software companies and was incredibly skeptical of any company that touted their “AI” and “machine learning” capabilities.

Those have become industry buzzwords that are widely misunderstood and overused. In many cases, companies claiming to have these capabilities are simply using data to analyze historical trends but are not, in fact, leveraging true AI. At Persado, we pride ourselves on having the only solution in the marketing world that truly leverages AI and machine learning to generate the best language for marketers.

Chart showing a steep rise in active startups developing AI systems from 1995 to 2015
The spike in startup companies trying to develop AI systems has grown, but Persado has been in the game and truly leverages the full power of AI and machine learning. Image courtesy of Forbes.

Which marketing channel do you think is the most underrated?

Email isn’t as sexy as it was 20 years ago when many of us still remember that iconic voice telling us “You’ve got mail!” Today, we’re bombarded by emails touting special offers “just for us” and hitting on multiple personal, work and school alumni accounts.

However, for personalized and relevant content, email is still the low hanging fruit for Fortune 1000 marketers; it’s fast, relatively inexpensive and easy to customize. That makes email marketing the perfect place for our customers to start amping up their digital marketing programs. From the possibilities to improve their digital and mobile presence are nearly endless.

At Persado, we find the vast majority of our customers begin to leverage our technology in email since it’s the easiest place to start (and easy to see a quick ROI), but then quickly scale to other channels including paid media and web, where they can take the learnings from email and apply them across all their marketing channels.

Chart showing that email has the highest ROI per dollar spent versus other types of advertising by a wide margin
It’s obvious to see why companies want to invest in email right away. It’s an easy marketing tactic to implement and provides quick ROI -- but there are so many other options to explore. Image courtesy of Mark the Marketer.

What are the biggest challenges facing marketers right now, particularly with respect to how they make use of data?

Between GDPR and the discussion surrounding the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook issue, data usage has become a hot-button ethical topic. The key for marketers who have found tracking consumer preferences to be an integral part of their strategy is to avoid getting too personal too quickly. But in today’s competitive landscape and the emphasis on customized content, some marketers start to over-do personalization.

As a marketer, you’ve probably been to a networking event (or five) this year alone. If a vendor came up to you and regurgitated your entire LinkedIn profile and mentioned something you tweeted about your dog three weeks ago, you’d likely be creeped out, right?On the other hand, if they congratulated you on a promotion that was recently published in a trade magazine roundup, you’d probably be impressed and flattered.

The same goes for data: learn about your consumers, but do it slowly and without crossing the line into stalker territory. If you’re selling home improvement items, you don’t need to hyper-target your audience to the point where you’re showing each individual an actual photo of their home. Instead, consider suggesting a grill to someone who recently purchased patio furniture. It’s helpful, not off-putting.

Personalization and knowing your customers is  a huge marketing benefit -- just remember to be smart about how you approach it. More and more people a weary of online scammers and data breaches.  

Chart showing the ways in which security concerns have impacted online shopping in the US, EU, and Canada
Security is a major concern for consumers. Security concerns are changing the way people use the internet and share their information. Image courtesy of We Live Security.

What is the most common mistake marketers make?

Relying too much on gut feel rather than data. The best marketers are those who don’t hold their beliefs too firmly, and who can be nimble when data proves that what they thought they knew isn’t actually the case.

I think we’re starting to see this more frequently as marketers become more data-driven and begin to trust data more − even when that data goes against long-held beliefs. But if you really think about it, that’s what data is here for. To prove, or disprove something and help us grow from the information. Data is a science, and you can’t question science.

Pie chart showing that most people feel themself very or at least somewhat successful at data-driven marketing
When tasked with data-driven marketing, most people feel they are only somewhat successful in their levels of overall success. Although this is better than a large number feeling very unsuccessful, it still shows that organizations still have a long way to go when it comes to data-driven marketing. Image courtesy of Customer Think.

What are you excited about? Anything on the horizon?

At Persado, we are striving to be the de facto standard in marketing. If you’re not using Persado, you are not optimizing your marketing messaging and could fall behind your competitors who have chosen to invest in improving customer communication. As we continue to automate our platform and add integrations - such as our integration with Listrak - we are making it even easier for customers to seamlessly deploy Persado content.

What’s on your personal media list right now?

Whether on the road, in the office, at the gym or at home, I am always listening to music. I am a huge fan of Spotify and love that their recommendation engine creates playlists for me based on what I listen to and like. The Weeknd’s new album is one of my current favorites.