Tech Duolog

Interview with Founder and CEO, Concured – Tom Salvat

Tom Salvat from Concured takes us through different facets of Marketing Automation while addressing the role technology in upgrading the marketing sector


“Marketers need to stop thinking about AI and start thinking about what it is they’re trying to fix, figuring out the how (customer experience) rather than the what (AI) “

1. Tell us about your role at Concured?
I started Concured in 2015 to help marketers better understand the interests of their audience so that they can deliver content that makes an impact. Having spent around 10 years working in advertising and content marketing, I’ve gained a pretty comprehensive view of how important content is to brands and the changing ways they have had to communicate with their customers.

The issue we try to solve is that there is so much content being produced that it becomes hard to cut through the noise. As a result, engagement has dropped dramatically, so content marketers feel like their strategies are failing and dollars being lost. I realised that AI and automation could help businesses make better sense of their audiences and develop content strategies that will work and be successful, which they have!

2. How do you think technology is upgrading marketing Sector?
For me a lot of this is around relevance. The way that technology is improving that sector is that it is allowing companies to automate a lot of the manual, time-consuming processes that they need in order to gain actionable insights from large datasets and better understand their audience.

Key to this is understanding their market and the content that is needed in order to be more affective in gathering attention and converting reads into leads and leads into sales. By automating manual processes, content marketers are able to make sense of all of this information that they never had before and get a better idea of what you need to do to become more effective and put the right message in front of the right person at the right time.

To do this you need data backing up every marketing decision. From the research we’ve done most marketers create marketing materials with a knowledge base of around 1-5% of what they actually need to know. That comes down to the amount of information that they’re able to get their hands on.

So it could be engagement data, audience data, conversion data, but the effort required to gather all that and turn it into an insight is epic, which is why they don’t do it they simply don’t have the time or resources.

Again, technology, AI in particular, being able to automate and augment the process of gathering the evidence needed to back up content marketing strategies is going to massively improve the marketing sector by producing better quality, more relevant content that increases the chance of there being a commercially beneficial outcome.

3. How has AI empowered marketers in delivering better customer experience?
AI is about automating and augmenting what marketers already do. When you automate a process it means you can do more of it as well as giving you a fuller picture to make a better decision. When you augment it means that you’re essentially keeping on the trains tracks and going in the right direction because you know what the end goal looks like and what you need to do to get there.

But you could do it quicker and more effectively, which is where AI comes in, and when you do that the customer experience improves because it’s about delivering the right thing in the right place at the right time. The right thing is AI giving us the actionable insight to make sure we’re creating the right content, the right place being the personalisation of content and making sure you understand enough about your audience to give them the right asset and piece of content.

AI is able to do that with content personalisation using Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the interests and needs of that person, then using things like Machine Learning and Deep Learning to personalise the delivery of content based on that person’s interests. The right time is making sure you’re doing that across multiple channels.

The perfect customer experience would be to provide whatever it is they want as quickly and easily as possible, so you need to make sure every interaction they have is both relevant and helpful. AI can do that by understanding what it is you find helpful, finding out more about you and making sure you have the right assets based on that demand to give it to you when you need it.

However, AI can’t create good quality content. There will be exceptions to that rule I’m sure, but it’s not widely accessible to 99.9% of companies to have a tool that can create a good piece of content marketing or thought leadership. You need a journalist, a writer, a subject matter expert. You need someone that knows how to write or tell a compelling story – humans that are able to interpret data and use creativity to create good quality content. Because you can have a brilliant award-winning journalist write something that is completely irrelevant to an audience, so we need the intelligence to makes sure we’re creating something based on a subject matter that is contextually relevant, timely and useful.

4. Can you explain how does your Content intelligence platform help in Researching and personalizing content?
We use insights driven from AI that end guesswork, validate content strategies and gain visibility and value. The end goal is providing evidence on what content strategies should focus on so that marketers can own key topics, stand out from the crowd and ultimately outflank the competition.

The Content Intelligence platform is the AI and automation to arm marketers with the data they need to perform and at the same time automate that process so that they can focus on other important tasks.

The personalisation really comes from the human element. AI is still some way off from producing compelling written content, so we still have an advantage in that we can use creativity and flair to produce content that is genuinely interesting, because you can have all the data in the world but if someone thinks it sounds bland or the same as everything else out there then they’re never going to read it.

5. We recently covered the news about the launch of Content-as-a-service product; can you give more details about this product?
Content marketers have two major questions to contend with – “What do they write about?” and “Who do they get to create great quality, engaging copy?”. Delivering Content-as-a-Service solves both issues. With the likes of IDG on board, their editorial team (the Content Studio) will deliver compelling stories that have been crafted specifically to increase commercial success for technology companies.

We believe that delivering Content-as-a-Service is the future of marketing. The Content-as-a-Service partnership with IDG enables us to provide what we believe to be the best content in the world for technology companies backed by data and results, providing an almost unfair advantage to our customers.

6. What are your predictions about the future of content marketing?
I think that, especially now with current times around Covid-19, what we’re finding is that content budgets are shrinking or being constrained and I think there is going to be a bigger spotlight on the ROI of content marketing.

I think all too often for the past few years, ROI has been driven by output whereby getting masses of content out there has simply been enough despite it not being of relevance to anyone. What we’re seeing now is a focus on the relevancy and the return of that content, i.e. is it moving the needle, what commercial benefit is there for the content that I’m producing and putting out there.

A lot of companies won’t be able to answer those questions which means they’ll reduce budgets or say you have a period of time to prove the value of this to the business. Content marketing budgets will be scrutinised more than ever before, so we’ll start to see a new era of a need to prove an ROI.

Covid-19 will have a significant impact on this and could be a game changer for content marketing because wherever you look, it’s only really 25-30% of content that you can really give any indication of whether or not it has been successful. Billions of dollars are being wasted on content that is basically pointless. If you were working in advertising and you showed that 70% of your advertising efforts didn’t work, you’d be out of a job. In fact in pretty much any job you had, if you are pointless 70% of the time that’s not going to look good!

There will be an ever increasing scrutiny on what is the value of content. So proving an ROI, proving it is effective, proving you have an uplift will become increasingly important, and a lot of that comes back to do I really know what I need to do in order to be effective. The answer most of the time is a resounding no.

Another issue is that people have different views in evaluating the effectiveness of content. One is output, which is wrong, and another one is engagement – which could be social shares, page views, time on page etc. It could also be more complex data such as share of voice, reach, but the most compelling commercial metric is conversion – effectively finding out what is the commercial value of content is.

That could be through organic search – how much traffic am I getting from search results and how much would that have cost me if I’d paid for it – but also how many people are converting from the piece of content into a demo, a lead or a paying customer. That’s where we are heading as a business. How can we start to put a monetary value on a piece of content, because if you can’t, content marketing will die out.

7. What advice would you like to give to the technology Start Ups?
To be an entrepreneur, you have to be a little bit arrogant, a little bit resilient and pretty damn determined. All of those things are helpful, but they can also be a bit of a curse because you often think that you know best. That isn’t helpful when you build a product that you think should be brilliant, but if your customers don’t validate that they can use it then it’s all pointless. Everything has to be customer first, because you can’t make any money with customers.

It’s really important to work really closely with customers and let your customers dictate what products and services should offer rather than guessing or estimating. Surround yourself with the best possible talent that you can afford as well, because sometimes it’s worth paying twice as much for a talented team member than having ten people who aren’t as talented.

If I was to start this again, I guess the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is work with as many customers as possible and as early as possible because at the end of the day your business is successful if your customers are successful. If you have a product that people love and makes their lives easier, then they’ll keep buying and you can scale that as much as you want.

Be lean as well. When you’re lean you have to make tough decisions that make sure you’re going in the right direction. Test the market and evaluate everything. Build models, be realistic, do SWOT analysis and set realistic expectations. Understand that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

8. What is the Digital innovation in sales technology according to you that will mark 2020?
A better understanding of customers through using technology such as AI, because it all comes back to knowing your customer. I think having good quality, first party data on every customer, understanding their interests, their profile and their needs being shared across sales and marketing is so important because every customer experience becomes relevant so that when a sales person talks to a customer, they know enough about them to be helpful, useful and be an asset. A good sales person is a valuable asset to someone and not just a person that’s just asking for money. People buy from people, and you’re more likely to buy from someone that is helpful and can help you navigate through your challenges than just price.

9. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?

Marketers need to stop thinking about AI and start thinking about what it is they’re trying to fix, figuring out the how (customer experience) rather than the what (AI).

The world looks at this problem and asks what should I know about AI and what should I do with it?

It all depends on what you’re trying to do. If it’s accounting for example, you don’t necessarily need AI but you might need automation. There are lots of things now that say AI but don’t necessarily need to be AI. I think marketers need to first think about what are the challenges that they have and then research whether or not AI is actually a solution that is going to solve that problem better than a non AI solution.

If we’re talking about manual repetitive tasks, AI is brilliant at that. The same goes for imitating or augmenting human behaviour. You need to turn it on its head because AI is just so broad. AI can help spot cancer or automate traffic. It’s such a broad topic that you actually need to stop thinking about AI and start thinking about what the problem is and research if there are AI solutions available that help you solve that better than before.

First research the challenge and then whether or not AI is actually the right tool to help. Talk to vendors and ask them why AI does that role better than a non-AI tool. If they can’t answer that question, then it’s redundant.

10. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent time?
The biggest development is probably building a methodology that helps content marketers and creators understand the true ROI and commercial value of their content. It’s never been done because it’s so complex, but we’ll get there.

For example, let’s say you have a piece of content like a blog. We can tell you how many social shares you have, traffic it received and potentially how many conversions you had from that page. Conversions is easy because you should know how many conversions you need for a sale, e.g. 10 demo requests equates to £30,000.

Another part of that methodology is how much organic search traffic have I had and how much would it have cost me to pay for that traffic. What is the value of a social like or share and trying to put a number to that, which is also a combination of traffic, views, reach etc. When you gather all that data, going back to automation, in order to attribute value you need to know everything or at least know as much as is possible to know, because if you know the value of a share or click or demo you can assign value to each content asset when you add it all together.

11. Which book are you reading these days?
Behind the Cloud by Mark Benioff, the Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

12. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
I use a lot of your typical apps such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Slack, but a lot of them are to escape the usual hustle and bustle of the world, such as Calm, the self-meditation app, and Deliveroo, because you don’t have much time when you’re running a business!

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Tom Salvat is the Founder & CEO of multi-award winning content marketing AI startup Concured. Tom founded CONCURED to analyze people’s behaviour towards content at scale, in order to prescribe what content creators should create next to maximize engagement & ROI. Tom has spent the last decade working with the biggest brands in the world on their content & advertising challenges, in London, New York and Montreal. Tom was also named AI CEO of the year by the Global CEO Excellence Awards in 2018 and 2019.

Concured is a marketing agency that specializes in content marketing and technology. It uses artificial intelligence to help content marketers understand what topics their audience are engaging with, what they should create content on next, and where to promote it to maximize ROI. It provides competitor insight, social insight, and industry insight to create content. The company’s predictive content algorithm uses artificial intelligence to identify content gaps that are trending upwards in popularity but are yet to be exploited and its platform the highlights those gaps in context providing users with their next content ideas that will engage the audience and cut through the noise.
Concured was founded by Tom Salvat in 2015 and is headquartered in London, England.

For more information please visit our Website.

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