“I quickly got tired of being targeted by companies who weren’t treating me as an individual". In this week’s SalesTech Spotlight, we’re talking to Igor Volzhanin, CEO & Founder of AI-Powered Personalisation tech start up, Datasine.
For the uninitiated, can you give us the lowdown on Datasine: What is it?
Datasine is an AI-powered marketing technology company, bringing together psychology and AI to empower marketers to connect the dots between each customer and their preferred content.
Our first product, Connect (previously called Pomegranate), uses data-driven, interpretable and actionable insights to identify the most impactful marketing content - both visual and written - for each brand’s specific customer base.
The platform is also able to analyse previous campaign data to understand what has and has not worked in the past, providing content recommendations that help marketers optimise their next digital campaign.
This SaaS offering is available to any marketer in the world - and we also have an enterprise offering that integrates with a number of marketing platforms and requires more bespoke AI modelling.
What originally motivated you to apply AI to consumer psychology?
Often times, marketing content is not tailored to a specific individual or audience, with all customers receiving the same generic, impersonal content.
As a consumer, I quickly got tired of being targeted by companies who weren’t treating me as an individual, or tailoring content to suit my personal needs. However, the idea of Datasine really came to me when I was doing my PhD in cognitive science - I realised that the merger of psychology and AI could help provide the solution at scale.
When I started the company, there were a couple of proof-of-concept moments. One of them was during a Hackathon in France in 2015, hosted by BNP Paribas. At the event, we pitched the idea of tailoring communication to make it more appealing to people’s preferences using psychology and AI - and won the Hackathon!
This proved to me that both the problem and the solution are indeed credible, with companies viewing it as a priority. The product has developed a lot since then, but the main idea behind it remains the same.
Every Tech company reliant on data is bound to run into some negative sentiment. How do you address the sceptics of personality marketing?
Personality marketing is actually something we have shifted our focus from in favour of content preferences and past user engagement.
In our experience, this approach offers more robust models - and our data and successful use cases with our customers make us believe it works better. That said, when we did work with personalities more closely, we would never have exploited data to target vulnerable individuals (for example, we would never have targeted customers scoring high in “neuroticism”).
At Datasine, we have always prided ourselves on our ethical approach to data-driven marketing, which includes turning away companies whose values do not align with ours (e.g. gambling companies, weapons retailers/promoters, political parties). We also do not permit negative, hateful or inappropriate content suggestions through our platform.
Earlier this year, Datasine received $5.2m in series A funding (congrats!) – how are you utilising the investment?
Thank you! We are actually using this investment to develop our Connect platform. At the moment, marketers can sign up for our free basic version of the tool via our website, but we are also looking to launch a premium offering within the coming months.
At the same time, as we continue our growth trajectory, we’re also looking to hire talent across both the tech and business teams.
As champions of objective sales excellence: we love a stat. Any fact bombs you could drop on us?
We’ve got plenty. Personalised experiences across channels can increase your campaign’s performance by up to 80%.
It’s easy to see why: a customer receives an ad that has been refined by that individual’s particular preferences. By clicking on that ad, the customer can be redirected to a landing page that resonates in the same way, and once they leave, the company can send them a personalised email exactly in the way they prefer to be addressed.
An interesting effect we’ve seen with the numerous campaigns we‘ve run with our enterprise clients have shown us that images with the themes of relaxation, vacation, nature and summer increase campaign performance.
However, it can vary from audience to audience, and this is where our tool comes in handy and analyses exactly what your audience responds to.
In a nutshell: how does Datasine help businesses to grow?
Datasine empowers, rather than replaces marketers.
The platform equips marketers with AI’s ability to analyse vast quantities of data, whilst providing interpretable insights about the types of content that a target audience prefers. This last part is particularly important - because it’s not enough to simply know what content works; marketers should also know why.
By allowing AI to automate the “heavy lifting” aspects of identifying customer preferences, marketers are free to dedicate their time to doing what the human brain does best: be creative, solve problems and understand customers on a deeper and more human level.
What’s been your own biggest growth challenge?
As Datasine has grown, the role of the CEO has evolved with it. One of the biggest early challenges was assembling the current team and ensuring that we had superstar staff members filling each role; ultimately enabling me to provide vision and support, while the team executed our strategy.
It is now my role to ensure that everyone is at the right place and doing their absolute best to achieve our long-term vision. Naturally, this requires personal growth and development, which, along with the growth objectives we’ve set up as a company, can be quite a challenge.
Where do you see the future of AI-powered personalisation in say; 10 years’ time?
I firmly believe that AI-powered personalisation will lead to increased automation of the more “mundane” or analytical tasks, whilst freeing up time for marketers to be more creative and focus on higher-level, strategic objectives.
At the moment, companies spend a lot of time producing content. Selecting the right image and writing an attention-grabbing headline to pull together an effective Facebook ad or email is a laborious task.
Often, marketers will re-use the same marketing assets over and over again, because selecting and creating new ones is so time-consuming. This will all change with AI, which enables marketers to deliver individual experiences, at scale - resulting in thousands, if not millions, of personalised customer journeys.
Finally, any top tips to help our sales leaders grow their own business?
My number one top tip is to focus on the user.
Ultimately, growth can only come from delivering value to your customers - and if you build a great product, people will want to use it.
One of our senior manager’s job is to build a feedback loop between the user and our product team, enabling us to quickly gather user feedback and build features based around it. This allows our sales teams to constantly offer a product that we know delivers value.
If you gather feedback, constantly iterate your product and focus on delivering value, sales will soon follow.
Want to learn more? Head over to the Datasine website to get the full story.
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