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InsiderInbox Q&A with the Influencers & Experts Driving Digital Innovation in Marketing & AdTech

March 14, 2019  •  By: Renee Chemel

logo for DataWit

Greetings! With Spring just right around the corner, many of us are looking forward to a time of renewal, reinvigoration and excitement as nature blooms with life once again. This month, our InsiderInbox expert brings some of those same attributes to the marketing tech stack—helping your current efforts bloom with a supplemental solution that drives additional revenue.

Sharon Magen is CEO and co-founder of DataWit, which provides an AI-based marketing solution that looks at data variations to dynamically identify user groups with intent, and then sends timely, personalized messages that trigger purchases. Its predictive learning engine adapts with every new customer action to optimize content, including personalized messages and best time to send, based on individual customer behavior patterns.

Sharon has been in the digital business since the very early days, starting as a developer with Expand networks in 1997. Later, he spent three years at ICQ, one of the first groundbreaking instant messenger apps to hit the market, which was later bought by AOL. From there, he moved on to ClickTale where, as VP Sales, he helped companies discover new insights into their customers’ online behavior using ClickTale’s tracking and optimization solutions, and helped ClickTale grow from a 6-person startup to millions of dollars in revenue. Before co-founding DataWit, Sharon also spent over 3 years in the mobile industry, first as chief revenue officer at Appoxee, leading to its acquisition by Teradata, where he stayed on to serve as director of mobile solution sales.

To say he’s “grown up with” the evolution of digital interaction and marketing is entirely accurate, which gives him a rich and engaging perspective on the industry’s future.

1. Why did you choose digital marketing, or maybe it chose you?

Marketing tech chose me. I started a developer 20 years ago in marketing for security and compression companies, then shifted to product with ICQ. There I gained experience in the monetization and advertising space where my goal was to drive product use and engagement. From product manager, I then shifted over to the business development side, doing deals with publishers, media and content providers, helping to grow ICQ’s B2C and B2B programs.

At ClickTale, I became exposed to the analytics side of marketing tech, and through that experience saw a void in the industry. After years of selling solutions to marketers, and being one myself, I could see the shift happening about 10 years ago – instead of being creative, marketers needed to become more mathematical, more statistical and focus on results that were very measurable. All of the tools people gave them still had to be on top of what they’re doing—they had to be very mathematical in their thinking. Marketers need to understand target audience and be creative. There are a lot of tools out there, but users are still struggling. They needed something that operates on its own, that lets the marketers get back to what they’re really good at—devising engaging content. But in retention areas, they’re still working with workflows and triggers, but it’s not automated. Most technology doesn’t create rules of engagement and segments by itself, and that’s some of the things we’re doing here at DataWit.

2. What is your personal mission statement?

Personally, my goal is to be happy, ultimately. For me it’s a combination of excelling in my work and having fun, to feel like I’m contributing and also feel a sense of accomplishment. Of course, you’re always doing stuff that you don’t like—that’s just life—but my goal is for that portion to be relatively small. It’s a lot about balance and work/life management. The ability to have fun while you work is a bonus.

3. Tell me something about your job, other than money, that inspires you to keep working at your company.

The people, the atmosphere, the environment, and the fun. When we see a client generating revenue from what we do and they couldn’t do it without us, it’s so rewarding. To be able to offer value for the customer through building a product that wasn’t there before—it’s extremely motivating.

4. When you think of the word “successful,” who is the first person who comes to mind, and why?

If you look at people who have made an impact—people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Paige, etc.—they made an impact in business, and by that measure, they were successful and changed a lot of things about how we live today. But, to me, a more successful person is one who has a balanced life, is healthy, surrounded by a great community and people who love him.

5. What is a skill that every digital marketer should have and why?

The ability to learn very quickly and adapt. You need to have some sort of analytical and critical thinking skills, but more important is to be very flexible. Things are changing very rapidly and the ability to adapt with them will help you navigate any situation.

6. What is the best part about your job?

Seeing customer success from what we do. For a lot of people, it seems like in marketing tech, everything has been done already, but what we’re doing is actually unique and filling a niche or void in the industry.

7. If you could only use five (digital) marketing/ad/publishing tools, what would they be? And why?

Oh, my list is much shorter than that: for client acquisition, it’s still Facebook and Google. Display and others work, but there’s nothing better than these two. They work every time.

8. Who inspires you?

My kids. They’re ages 5 and 10, and just to see them learning, how quickly they can figure things out, and how smart they are. It’s really amazing.

9. What is the biggest digital publishing trend/challenge for 2019?

I talk to a lot of our customers, most of them on the acquisition/advertisers side and publishers. The challenges they’re still telling us are Number 1 growing quality traffic. They need quality traffic that translates into revenue, which means better targeting and using big data and analytical tools to understand how to get more quality traffic from same or different sources.

Number two: the regulatory side of the equation with GDPR. That’s something new that wasn’t there before and it’s changing the focus on privacy, which is making targeting a bit more challenging.

10. If you could have one billboard and place it anywhere, what would it say and where would it be?

Well, naturally I’d want to place it where my target audience is and advertise DataWit. But, blatant product plug aside, I’d want some huge “Be Happy” billboard, reminding people not to work so hard. Maybe outside the New York Stock Exchange, or somewhere like that, where people have a tendency to think that life revolves around work.

11. What have you changed your mind about recently?

I’ve actually changed my mind about what drives the decision-making process. You might start off with something in mind that you think will generate a lot of value based on the data, but when you try it and realize it’s not quite what you thought, you have to be willing to change. Just because the data points in one direction doesn’t mean it will always go that way. There’s more to people than their past behavior. You always have to be flexible based on what the new data is telling you.

12. What’s the one or two things you can’t live without to get the job done?

I have to have a computer and internet connection. The drinks on Thursdays and coffee in the morning, aren’t bad either, but a laptop and internet are the bare necessities. I also love music, and always have headphones with me. When I need to do something that requires me to concentrate, I rely on music to help me get into the zone. It can be anything…from flamenco to rap to pop music…it just depends on what I’m doing.

Thank you, Sharon! Your message about being adaptable really rings true, especially in the martech world where things are evolving as we speak.

Join us next time as we continue to visit with the movers and shakers in the digital industry who are shaping the future.

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