SalesTechStar

SalesTech Star Interview with Josh Francia, Chief Growth Officer at Blueshift

Tell us about your role and journey into technology? What inspired you to join Blueshift?

My background is in Marketing, Product Management, and Technology. Prior to joining Blueshift, I was actually a customer via LendingTree, where I was the VP of Marketing for a little over two years. One of my first to-dos was to “fix” their CRM, and Blueshift was the only vendor out of a pool of 30 that met my list of needs.

Seeing the step-change power of this platform first-hand was really exciting, and I joined because I want to help other marketers realize the power of transparent AI and Activated data.

What is Blueshift and how does it fit into the modern CMO’s technology stack?

I think Blueshift is best described as a solution that lives at the intersection of CDP and Automation. We call this a CDAP, which stands for Customer Data Activation Platform, and it was built to fill a void that most Marketing teams have when it comes to turning data collection into actual informed decisions.

Piping data into Blueshift gives Marketing teams a much needed customer-centric view, which they can then execute against the platform’s predictive modeling, recommendations, and cross-channel journey flows.

How is Blueshift driving transformation in the Data and Analytics industry?

Blueshift empowers Marketing teams to enrich their data with intelligence built by customized AI rather than AI that lives inside a black box. Stripping away the secrecy is what truly puts data at a marketer’s fingertips; he or she can benchmark their needs and actually activate and execute against them when they have full access and visibility into what’s going on.

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Which businesses and geographies are you currently Marketing to? What’s your ideal customer profile?

Our primary geographies are North America and Europe, and we have some clients in APAC as well. We’re a great solution for all verticals, but our ICP is from a digital-first business.

Those that focus on a digital experience are going to be those who are furthest along on the Marketing sophistication curve and can benefit almost instantaneously from a platform built for the challenges that arise there.

As Blueshift’s Chief Growth Officer, how do you align your Marketing with revenue goals?

We measure the impact of all our initiatives against revenue goals that come into the company and make sure to use a lot of our own intelligence internally. The initiatives/campaigns with the highest ROI are given the largest budgets. The ones with the lowest are either scaled down or eliminated.

As a Chief Growth Officer, how would you identify the biggest advantages of leading a Marketing Technology company into a data-driven landscape?

Tech companies attract data-minded people. It’s much easier to operate when you work in an environment that’s naturally full of those whose skill sets match the demand because you don’t need to play catch up. You’re the pioneers, guiding the rest on where they need to go. It’s incredibly exciting to be on the cutting edge of technology, dictating the shifts that are happening in the market.

Tell us about your most recent Digital Marketing campaign and the audience it was targeting? How did you measure its performance?

We recently launched a gourmet cookie ABM campaign which targeted some top accounts from our ICP list. We coordinated all aspects of the campaign from gifting, paid media and outreach to be continuously in sync. Cross-channel coordination is critical for successful Marketing campaigns.

It’s still a bit early, but we’ll measure the impact across a variety of metrics, and most importantly, the number of opportunities generated versus the total cost of the campaign will be the ultimate KPI.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in AI and Data Management technology over the next year?

The market is going to see a huge pivot away from the idea that AI means you just push a button and whatever you want to come true comes true. AI doesn’t stand for Autonomous Intelligence; AI is Artificial Intelligence that needs to be fed by real intelligence.

You can’t do that effectively if your algorithms and your predictive models are shrouded in secrecy, nor should you be expected to just trust any score a platform spits out. More and more businesses will realize that when you make marketers part of the journey, when they’re allowed to act as shepherds of AI, customizing the inputs and measuring the outputs, you unlock a world of success.

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What startups in the technology industry are you closely watching right now?

I keep an eye on disruptors rather than industry. Redfin and Carvana are both flipping the traditional model on its head and changing entire industries with the convenience of a digital-first or digital-only experience, for example. If we can buy a car online, have it delivered, then test drive it and either keep it or return it, all without having to step foot onto a lot, most of us are going to choose that route.

At the end of the day, if we can avoid having a conversation, that’s what we’re going to do. I like to follow companies that innately understand that this preference doesn’t mean consumers aren’t communicating with companies; on the contrary, every bit of data a consumer leaves behind is saying something. Real disruptors understand that and are figuring out ways to best utilize it.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Marketing Leader?

Embrace it. The things AI can accomplish could neither be done alone or with an army of people. If you shepherd that power, if you hone it and scale it, you’ll accomplish more than you ever dreamed possible. It’s essential to understand this, to shift your mindset, and to educate your teams accordingly.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

I might catch some flack for this one, but I turn off email and slack for an hour or so every day. I call this my deep work time, and all screens are gone except the screen I’m working on. Balancing hyper-focused work time with all the notifications and other distractions of today is absolutely key.

I also like to make part of each of my meetings non-transactional. You don’t always have to talk about things that are work-related. Ask what people are doing outside of the office. Build a better rapport and meaningful relationships. Good Ol’ human-level interactions help people feel less stressed and people perform better when they aren’t stressed.

Share one word that best describes how you work.

Purposeful

What is your best piece of advice to other CMOs?

Hire people that are better than you. Hire people that augment and fill in some of your weaknesses. These are the people you can learn from; these are the people who will propel your company forward.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Never mistake activity for achievement. Just because you’re doing a lot doesn’t mean you’re going anywhere. People can often get stuck in the production phase as if the output itself is more important than its impact, which is a slippery slope.

I constantly ask myself, how is the work I’m currently doing moving the needle? What can I do to make it more impactful?

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
  • Daily Budget. This keeps my family’s finances on track and is incredibly simple.
  • Audible. Love being able to listen on the go and hear the inflections from the authors.
  • Evernote. I’d be lost without my trusty note-taking companion. I’ve used it religiously for almost 10 years!
What are you currently reading?

I just finished Good To Great by Jim Collins, which was a great look at leadership and how to hire people who will propel your business forward. Next is Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio. Outside of the business book world, I love non-fiction novels about space, science, quantum mechanics – that kind of thing. Einstein’s Cosmos by Michio Kaku is fantastic.

Who is the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read?

I’d love to read Max Levchin’s answers. I’ve followed him closely since he founded PayPal and I really admire the way he thinks about life and work.

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Thank You, Josh, for answering all our questions. We hope to see you again, soon.

blueshift logo

San Francisco based Blueshift is the leader in AI-Powered Marketing and is recognized by Gartner as Cool Vendor in this category. Using patented technology, Blueshift’s AI enables consumer marketers at companies like LendingTree, Udacity, IAC, and BBC to activate customer data and launch 1:1 engagement on every channel.

Blueshift’s recent innovations in AI-Powered Marketing include “AI-Powered Customer Journeys,” a next generation solution that enables marketers to deliver content rich & personalized customer engagement.

Innovative, passionate and data driven executive with 15+ years experience in marketing, product management and e-commerce technology. Known for setting strategic vision, developing and mentoring teams and using technology toachieve challenging revenue targets while maximizing returns.