Interview with Chief Marketing Officer of Lytics – Darren Guarnnacia

Darren Guarnaccia


“The obvious first step is really understanding your customer’s purpose. What is it they are trying to achieve through the use of your product or service.”


1. Tell us about your role at Lytics and how you got here?
I’m the CMO here at Lytics and lead our marketing function. What attracted me to Lytics was that they seemed to have the answer to the question I’ve been asking for 20 years in marketing technology. How can you know your customer so well that you can give them exactly what they want, when they want it, where they want it. I’ve been trying to help customers achieve this goal for a long time, and while some of the technologies out there solved some of the problem, doing it at scale without armies of people kept thwarting progress on these programs. In Lytics, I saw the opportunity to solve that problem by applying machine learning techniques to customer data.

2. What’s the most fascinating aspect of working with ? How about sharing with us a cool picture of your trendy work environment?
What fascinates me most about Lytics is the insanely smart people I’m surrounded with. These people have been thinking deeply about these problems for along time, and many have been in big data and machine learning long before it was called either of those terms.  I also love that we are deeply embedded in our customers projects in a way that allows us to constantly improve our product, and solve their business problems in more valuable ways. The insight we gain can be constantly shared across our customer base, making everyone smarter and better.

3. How is the martech industry different from when you first started?
For starters, there are probably about 100 times more companies across the martech landscape. I also think most of the ecosystem has shifted to be more integration friendly, and embrace the frenemy model. This is important. Early days, each vendor was an island, trying to own as much of the martech footprint as they could. While some of the mega-stack vendors still try to do that, I’ve seen a fundamental shift back to openness and best of breed.

4. Given the changing dynamic of marketing analytics and customer insights, where do you see Lytics fitting in the ecosystem?
I see customer data platforms specifically solving the problem of connecting all the data across all the marketing tools in a way that marketers can own and control. I’ve heard this called democratizing customer data, and think that’s missing in today’s marketing technology. Marketers need the ability to operative quickly and iteratively and have all the data about their customers in a way they can easily use to drive activation across their tools.  As Benjamin Bloom at Gartner stated, we’re going to see a world of smart hubs and dumb spokes. I see CDPs as that smart hub.

5. How do you differentiate Lytics from the competition?
Lytics differentiates on a few things. The first is that everything we do it in real-time. We do data integration on the fly, we process all the data and stitch profiles together in real time and all of our machine learning algorithm update instantaneously as new data comes in. Why is that important?  Because of our second differentiator. We let marketers use all of that information to affect customer experiences in real-time. Lytics has a decisioning engine that will deliver the right experience to a customer in the right channel and when that customer is most receptive. It does this based on everything it knows about that customer in the moment, so that’s why real-time data is important. The last differentiator is simplicity. Marketing tech has gotten so complex, we’ve purposefully built our technology to remove complexity, and simplify marketing workflow processes.

6. How do you think you can cope the best with the growing complexities in analyzing real time customer behavior?
There are several factors driving complexity in marketing today. The first is the volume of data coming at marketers, and how to gain insight from that deluge. The second is how to activate that data in a useful way with their customer and the third is the complexity of trying to anticipate a customer’s next step. The very nature of CDPs solve for the first 2 factors. Lytics automatically ingest customer data from all of an organization’s marketing, and use machine learning unify the customers into individual profiles and gain insight on each individual. It also shares that data out to all other marketing tools in the form of segments and triggered events to activate that data into actions and experiences delivered in each channel tool. Lytics has tackled the 3rd area of complexity by rethinking user journey management. Instead of trying to create huge decision trees with if-then-else logic get get grow incredibly complex trying to map journeys across segments,  Lytics has designed a decisioning engine that looks at macro stages that use predictive intelligence to pick the right offers in the right channels at the right time based on individual attributes. This greatly simplifies a marketers workflow, and allows them to focus on the overarching journey and stages and creating compelling experiences.

7. What do you think is the main factor in orchestrating customer interests and actually building and retaining customer trust?
The obvious first step is really understanding your customer’s purpose. What is it they are trying to achieve through the use of your product or service. Really understand their problem, and how your product will solve that problem. That is ultimately their interest you need to serve. Armed with that understanding, then everything you do with that customer must be in service of that interest. Simply removing friction from achieving that purpose, educating them on how to achieve or even enhance the value gained from achieve that purpose are ways to build trust, especially when it’s clear their interests ahead of your own. Operationally, this is done through creating consistent experiences with your customers and delivering experiences that deliver value to your customer in a that aligns to their purpose. As customers trust you and share more information with you, use that data to help customer achieve their purpose across every moment you interact with them. By intentionally orchestrating a support helpful experience that’s aligned with their purpose and goals, customers will come to trust you and do business with you longer.

8. Can you share with us in a fun video a short glimpse of your functioning as a firm and your core values?
As a scrappy little brand, we haven’t had the bandwidth to build one yet. I can say that as Portlandians, we drink too much coffee, and have cold brew and Kombucha on tap.

9. How do you build an actionable customer interaction and communication model?
To build actionability, you have to understand intent, which should always be anchored in your customer’s purpose. Ideally, your customer interaction and communication model should be built to respond in realtime to a customer’s shifting intent and aligned with helping them achieve their purpose through their journey. The rise of customer data platforms allows brands to build centralized repositories of first party data that allow them to take action on them moment in response to any customer intent signal, across any channel.

10. What tools would recommend to CEOs and CMOs as a Sales Hack in 2018?
The power of story is a wonderful sales hack. Humans are hardwired to understanding stories as a evolutionary shortcut to sharing knowledge and understanding. Using the power of story, and sharing your “why” with customers is a way to cut through the noise and be remembered by your prospects.

11. What do you think are the new standards of tech integrations? How do you manage the dire data complexities that come along with tech integrations?
Customer Data Platforms have exploded onto the martech scene in the last few years which have redefined marketer’s expectation around ease of integration. Data democratization for marketing is the new normal, and it’s now expected that integrations are as simple as a few clicks and a copy/paste of authorization key.

12. Which startups in the martech and adtech industries are you keenly following?
I’m fascinated by new chat and voice technology as a new medium. I’ve been following Drift as a chatbot platform, and more generalist platforms like Cognigy that remind me of the early days of the web content management market. It’s still early days, but I think it has a ton of potential. On the ad-tech side of things, I’m following the impact of blockchain on ad-tech. I haven’t found anyone yet really solving it, but look forward to someone solving the trust problem in advertising.

13. Elaborate on your best digital transformation campaign. How did you measure the performance among your audience?
The best way to measure digital transformation is customer lifetime value. When a brand aligns it’s go-to-market around being useful and helpful to its customers, customers reward that with trust and loyalty, which ultimately results in customer equity and improved customer lifetime value.

14. What book are you currently reading?
I’m just wrapping up Origin Story: A big history of everything. It was a recommendation from Bill Gates’ top 5 list, and I try to rotate in an non-business book once every 5 business books or so. What I love about it is the mental framework it creates for understanding how the universe unfolded, from the big bang, through today, and how energy flows shaped everything. Fascinating stuff.

15. One piece of advice you always follow irrespective of circumstances
My mantra is “20% better, right direction”. It’s something I use in every aspect of my life. Keep making progress, and pushing in the right direction and you’ll get wherever you want to go.

Darren Guarnaccia is lead marketing at Lytics, a Customer Data Platform that helps brands extract customer behavior and data from every digital channel, and orchestrate their campaigns and engagement using their existing marketing tools.

The Lytics Customer Data (CDP) Platform, the company's flagship product, was launched in October 2014. The Lytics CDP connects a company's marketing data about customers and users from multiple sources (e.g., structured and unstructured data from tools, anonymous and known profiles, and other interactions and events from the marketing stack, sales, and support databases) and creates behavior-rich user segments (e.g., likely to churn, most active on mobile, coupon lover).
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