Alexi Venneri of Digital Air Strike discusses the growing importance of social media marketing and how virtual retailing has emerged as a savior amidst this Pandemic
“To be successful, you have to be ready, willing, and able to change course to meet the demands of the market “
1. Tell us about your role at Digital Air Strike?
I am the co-founder and CEO of Digital Air Strike. I am responsible for making corporate decisions, managing the overall operations, resources, and company culture of DAS.
2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
I started the Scottsdale-based company 10 years ago at my kitchen table after I was laid off during the Great Recession. I knew businesses needed an inexpensive way to reach consumers and we were one of the first to develop tools and technology to help businesses leverage the reach of social media. I consider myself a lifelong marketer but have called marketing a career for more than 20 years. My experience includes Major League Baseball, a technology startup, and a large corporation
3. How do you think technology is upgrading the marketing sector?
Technology is improving the quickness and effectiveness of all marketing efforts.
We can be much more targeted and personalized when delivering messages to our consumers through social media, email, and text messages. Through AI and automation, businesses can engage with consumers, ask and answer qualifying questions, and alert staff when human interaction is needed. It ultimately provides 24/7 customer service.
4. How has increasing use of social media helped in redesigning marketing and advertising campaigns?
The personal nature of social media presents a great opportunity for businesses to reach their specific consumers. Our recent online consumer trends study showed 67% of people find ads on social media helpful and 51% have purchased something through an ad. The ability to target the customers that businesses are trying to reach makes the advertising helpful, not intrusive or obstructive.
Social media is also an ideal place for consumers to see the “human” side of a business.
It also helps improve a company’s brand loyalty since consumers typically have to choose to follow your updates.
5. How do you define your Intelligent Messaging Solution?
Digital Air Strike’s Response Path is an AI-powered, multi-channel chat technology that engages customers automatically, 24/7 by asking and answering questions, allowing consumers to schedule appointments, explore inventory, read positive customer testimonials, get information about hours/location, and more. While the tool captures lead information, the goal is to be helpful and convert those leads into customers. Response Path alerts employees when human interaction is needed so they can enter the conversation from any device, anywhere. Response Path Power Text, which was developed to help businesses deliver timely updates during COVID-19, sends bulk texts to customers. When customers reply via text, the AI tech of Response Path engages with customers. All conversations and lead details are kept in a single, easy-to-use platform.
6. Can you explain how your Targeted Advertising solution can help marketers in present pandemic situation?
Digital Air Strike’s targeted advertising delivers the right message, to the right person, at the right time. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses need to advertise they’re open and safe for visiting customers, and they offer delivery options for customers who want to research, shop, and buy from home. Targeted social advertising is cost effective and can yield great results from relatively small ad spends compared to traditional advertising, which is an important factor as many businesses cut their budgets because of the pandemic.
7. What features of your social media marketing solution differentiates it in the market?
Digital Air Strike’s social media marketing and online reputation management give businesses an unfair online advantage. DAS’ team of social media experts manages over 300 social, review and directory sites to improve a business’ online presence and SEO, while maximizing engagement with consumers through custom social posts. The DAS team optimizes a business’ Google listing to showcase positive reviews and hot deals to increase leads from search. DAS’ award-winning Review Surge surveys customers and directs those that answer positively to automatically post their feedback on public review sites, quickly improving a business’ online reputation. Mobile Review Surge allows businesses to text review requests to their happiest customers and directs them to post the feedback on top review sites. Through Digital Air Strike’s Mission Control, companies can manage their entire online reputation from a centralized dashboard. The DAS Mobile App allows businesses to monitor their reputation from their mobile device and respond to customers directly from the App.
8. What advice would you like to give to the technology Startups?
Since I started my company 10 years ago during the Great Recession, I know how hard it can be. But I also know good things can come out of tough times. Our company is innovative and nimble and quickly built solutions to help businesses today. To be successful, you have to be ready, willing, and able to change course to meet the demands of the market. It’s important to have a strong team that embraces change and does whatever it takes to help clients, the company, and co-workers succeed.
9. What is the Digital innovation in sales technology according to you that will mark 2020?
Virtual Retailing is the digital innovation in sales technology I think will mark 2020. During COVID-19 and beyond, it’s important that businesses are able to communicate with customers virtually and allow them to do more of their research, shopping, and transactions online. Virtual Retailing includes video to communicate with customers and showcase products and services, AI, automation that provides 24/7 customer service and allows consumers to ask/answer questions, schedule appointments, and more without speaking with someone, text messaging which quickly and effectively delivers timely updates to customers, and social media marketing that promotes products, services, and more where consumers are spending their time.
10. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?
Digital Air Strike has prepared for an AI-centric world by developing technology that embraces and uses AI. For example, in April, DAS launched its new Response Path Power Text messaging technology that allows businesses to quickly and effectively deliver important, timely updates to customers via SMS messages. Power Text is paired with Response Path AI-powered messaging as part of Digital Air Strike’s new Virtual Retailing Program, which helps businesses transact virtually through video, social media, AI, and automation.
11. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent time?
Digital Air Strike strives to develop new solutions to help businesses engage with their consumers. Through Digital Air Strike’s Virtual Retailing Program, DAS is continuing to help businesses and their customers do more online and feel safer in person. Even as businesses start to open their stores again, many customers will still want to do their shopping online at home. The evolution of the Virtual Retailing Program shows businesses that through social media, AI, video, and automation they can still operate effectively.
12. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
The Digital Air Strike team is comprised of 160 employees, the majority of which are based at our headquarters in Scottsdale. Our other offices are in Silicon Valley, Detroit and Los Angeles. Our team is innovative and hard-working and is always ready to jump in to develop and implement new ideas. Everyone works together and does whatever it takes to get the job done. Our monthly WIT (Whatever It Takes) awards recognize employees who embody this mission.
13. What movie inspires you the most?
I love the “Steve Jobs” movie because it shows how a tech entrepreneur can persevere no matter what is thrown at him or her. Even though Jobs was forced out of his company Apple, at one time he pushed back against the decision and was reinstated. He had a brilliant mind and his company has created so many innovative technologies. He will forever be remembered for his tenacity, brilliance, and stubbornness.
14. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, so can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?
DAS brand color challenge: When employees were working from home during the pandemic, our DASVentures team came up with fun daily challenges to keep team members engaged and connected. In this photo collage, employees and their live-in family members were asked to wear one of our brand colors (white), include household items that were also white, and include a Cinco de Mayo theme since it was May 5th. Each day that week employees were asked to wear a different brand color and include a different theme for the color challenge. Those who participated each day were given monetary awards and congratulated at the weekly company meeting.
DAS Star Wars: Our team loves Star Wars and celebrating May the 4th. May the 4th be with you. In this photo collage, members of our team are dressing up in their finest Star Wars costumes and mimicking a choke hold made popular in the film by Darth Vader and other bad guys.
WIT On the Spot winners: Our company regularly rewards employees who go above and beyond, doing whatever it takes for clients, the company and co-workers with monetary awards. In this photo, six employees were recognized with $100 WIT (Whatever it Takes) awards for their help in making videos that showed auto dealership clients safe ways to work with customers during COVID-19.
DAS COVID-19 safety: When our employees returned to the office after it was deemed safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, we put in place many rules and cleaning strategies to ensure the health and safety of our employees. In this photo, Kris Vigil, senior manager of national accounts for Digital Air Strike, and Dave Venneri, chief revenue officer for Digital Air Strike, wear the new DAS-branded face masks that were given to all employees and showed the six-foot poles placed around the Scottsdale office and used when reconfiguring the office to ensure work stations were the right distance apart.
DAS NADA photo: Our company exhibits at the annual NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) conference every year. Here’s a photo of our team posing in our booth at the last NADA conference held in Las Vegas in February 2020.
DAS Dress for Success: Our team members support at least one chosen charity every month through donations and volunteerism. In this photo, Ondra Witherspoon, a senior client advocate for Digital Air Strike, stands next to a rack of clothes employees donated for a clothing drive benefiting Dress for Success. The items were given to people needing nice, professional clothes to wear to a job interview or at work.
15. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
Screenshot is attached from my phone. Here are anecdotes on my favorite apps:
– Email: While it may look like I have a lot of unopened emails, I keep all my email and use a unique sorting feature within my actual inbox, instead of folders.
– Text messages: I use the same system with text messages. I get a lot of alerts that I don’t need to open but if I ever need to go look they are there. It takes up too much of my time to delete or file away messages and emails due to the large volume I get.
– DAS app: Our Digital Air Strike app was the first B2B app to alert business owners of reviews, surveys, and consumer sentiment where the owner or manager can text, call, or email the customer right from the app.
– Prime Now: I live almost exclusively on Amazon Prime Now for grocery delivery, years before COVID-19. Ironically, the virus is what drove me into a physical grocery store recently (first time in about 3 years) because Amazon had run out of some essentials due to increased usage. It is a huge time saver!
– Cruelty Cutter: I am a big supporter of Beagle Freedom Project and use their Cruelty Cutter app to know which products are not tested on animals.
– Charity Buzz: This app is a guilty pleasure of mine to see all the unique experiences you can bid on while helping charities. The secret with this app is you can also use it for business to get in-person (or now virtual) meetings with some influential folks, too.
– Redfin, Expedia and American Airlines: My secret passions are traveling and real estate, so I am always looking for a bargain in both of those areas.
– Backdrop photo and Photos: This is a photo of me with my 9-year-old son, Griffin. I also have about a million photos on my phone. I love to capture all sorts of moments and experiences both personally and at work.
– WhatsApp and Messenger: I have lots of social media apps on my phone, of course, since Digital Air Strike is all about leveraging social. I also use WhatsApp and Messenger to communicate with my family overseas, and also increasingly with our business clients.
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