A Chat with Ohad Hecht, CEO of Emarsys
Ohad Hecht, the CEO of marketing platform Emarsys, speaks a slew of languages—English, German, Hebrew, and Chinese to be exact. In between all of that language absorption, he also oversaw Emarsys’s expansion into Asia-Pacific and served as the chief operations officer before landing in the CEO’s chair. A native of Israel, he’s spent his career working in three different industries on four different continents. We spoke with Hecht to get his take on the major challenges facing eCommerce businesses, the potential of AI for marketing, and the one thing he can’t get to sleep without.
TurnTo Networks: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing eCommerce businesses right now from a marketing perspective? And what do they need to do to take them on?
Ohad Hecht: There are many challenges, but these are the major things I see eCommerce businesses facing.
The first challenge begins with personalizing the customer experience across all channels, as opposed to optimizing for the channel at the expense of understanding who the customer is, what does she want, at what time, and what’s the best channel to deliver it.
Channels are a means to an end, and personalization that drives customer loyalty is an end by itself. In an explosion of marketing solutions with lots bells and whistles, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees.
The second is competition—one of the biggest is Amazon. Today, the consumer experience goes beyond pricing and accessibility. That isn’t enough in a world where customers can compare pricing and shop almost in any eCommerce shop across the world.
Customers want an experience that focuses on their needs as an individual consumer. eCommerce businesses need to be customer-centric by putting the customer first instead of simply offering a transactional experience.
Businesses also need to figure out how to scale this experience globally while navigating compliance and privacy regulations—like GDPR—logistics, language, taxation, consumer preferences, and ROI in different territories.
The third challenge is choosing the right marketing solution that’s quantifiable and can make a quick impact. eCommerce and marketing managers simply do not have the time and resources to ‘stitch’ several marketing solutions, or to work with huge cloud groups that take them through long and exhausting implementations.
In line with the trend of marketers and eCommerce managers becoming revenue drivers, they need to attribute and prove that their actions create dollars. They need the reliability of knowing where and how much to invest in a way that provides a predictable outcome.
The trade wars are something to keep an eye on, as there’s fluctuation in the availability of products and raw materials. That impacts both the supply and the demand of the products, but arguably also the entire industry.
TurnTo: Email marketing packs a sizable wallop. It’s opt-in and gets high engagement rates. Is there anything new that eCommerce companies need to do to nail the basics of email? And what’s the step after that?
Hecht: Email remains a powerful channel for engagement in the world of marketing. In the world of eCommerce, SMS and mobile are more about the engagement of the customer while the website is more about the transactional interactions.
It isn’t just about email, but the personalization across all of these channels: SMS, mobile, website, email, etc., and the value that the customer gets from these interactions.
TurnTo: It seems like we’re always on the cusp of wholesale change resulting from the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI). How can eCommerce companies use this emerging technology to provide a more personalized experience to customers?
Hecht: We see AI as a technology that analyzes and predicts future behavior, then acts on this data to create meaningful interactions between the brand and the consumer at scale on a one-to-one basis. That’s something humans can’t simply do.
For example, you’re the marketer, I am your client. Take all my data—contact info, preferences, in-store behavior, real time on your app, real time on the web, catalogue views and buys, and all my purchases—with you. Now engage me. Give me the right product at the right price, at the right time with a specific call to action that works for me. Don’t overdo it. Just engage me at the right moment.
Now multiply this across a client base of hundreds of thousands of people. That requires scalability, and that’s exactly how we’re using this technology. Yes, you need tons of data to feed AI algorithms for it to actually provide good outputs.
But once you have that, you can apply AI to every method that marketers use to engage consumers on a one-to-one basis, predict the future, and keep adapting the output based on behavioral change. Food for thought—when someone tells you AI is this and AI is that, ask them what the tech actually does, and is there enough data to support an AI engine?
TurnTo: You’ve lived in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America. Where’s your favorite place to lay your head? (And do you have any moving pro-tips for us?)
Hecht: I like to lay my head in my own bed next to my wife wherever we live. I also require my pillow, my blanket, and my pajamas for a good night’s rest. Yes, I’ll admit that I’m a little weird when it comes to doing research for the best items.
That is why I have the best pillow, blanket, and pajamas—and best wife too. Home is where you are. What makes a successful relocation and hence my only tip in this matter, is that every place is new—new people, new sights, different weather and food, etc.
Take it for what it is. Don’t benchmark it and compare it to the previous places you’ve lived. Each new place has its pros and cons. Oh, and make sure you’re relocating your spouse with you if you want to sleep well.
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