Omri Yacubovich is the co-Founder and CMO at Commerce Sciences, a website personalization platform for online marketers to convert more customers. They're backed by top investors including Eric Schmidt's Innovation Endeavors and their goal is to become the "Robin Hood of website personalization", allowing easier and cheaper A/B testing for smaller guys.
We wanted to hear from Omri how he joined Commerce Sciences, which challenges he faced as a CMO and any tips and tools he recommends for startups on a budget.
Since my early childhood everyone around me, including myself, were convinced I’ll become a lawyer so it wasn't surprising that years later, I found myself studying law and accounting at Tel-Aviv University. During college, I held several student positions in fields other than law I wanted to explore, one of them was writing for TV shows at Keshet Broadcasting. As my law clerkship approached (mandatory in Israel before you take the Bar), I decided to take-off for a trip in China.
I was on my way to the Chinese embassy to issue a Visa when I received a call from competitors of the TV Show I wrote for, asking me to join them full time. Although it was the type of opportunity I was waiting for, I politely turned them away, as I realized that comedy is an interesting experience, but not necessarily a lifelong job for me. As I hung up, my phone rang again. It was a marketing manager of a startup I never heard of before, who wanted to interview me to replace him. I kindly rejected saying I’m about to take off for a 3-month trip to China, but he insisted that I stop by on my way from the embassy and so I did.
The rest is history. I joined that startup and in a short period of time, took over the marketing and became a part of the company’s management team.
Two years later, I met Aviv Revach who was about to launch Commerce Sciences with another founder, and fell in love with their idea - leverage behavioral psychology into the online marketing worlds. The idea was simple - help online retailers increase conversion rates by deciphering each visitor’s buying intent, concerns & motivations and magically react in real-time. A few months after we closed our seed round, we launched our beta version, which was installed by thousands of e-commerce sites.
Think outside the box. Disruption brings results
When we started exploring paid marketing channels for immediate growth, we obviously tried all traditional paths, including Google Adwords and Facebook Advertisement. Although we managed to drive a lot of traffic, costs were a bit high, and I strived to reduce them. After doing some better targeting work, and testing of creative, I figured out that if we want to get a dramatic improvement, we need to do something outrageous. I decided to replace our ads messaging and images from “happy marketers” to crazy images, drawing way more attention while keeping it in the right context to make sure that we drive qualified traffic to our landing pages. In an article that I wrote about this experiment I described the thought process and the results (700% improvement).
No budget for booth? Didn't stop us
My first day at Commerce Sciecnes was in Chicago, attending one of the top E-Commerce conferences in the world, the IRCE. We were still in an early stage, so we didn't have a booth. My goal was to spot potential leads, pitch them Commerce Sciences and turn them into customers. Competing on the attendees attention wasn’t easy, as I was up against many vendors and large organizations with impressive booths and presence. In order to make good use of our time there, we started listing potential customers, tried to schedule meetings in advance, and also walked the floor identifying potential leads and started casual conversations, that in many cases not only earned us our first customers, but also started great relationships that last until today.
I’m a big believer in results driven marketing
There are many talented entrepreneurs, many of them with a great technological background or vision, but not very often with a solid experience in marketing. The “can do” approach that is part of being an entrepreneur can also be misleading, and as the common phrase goes “I never saw a startup that failed because they didn’t have a product” but many of them fail for lack of sustainable marketing plans, and many times it feels like CEOs expect marketers to make some magic. One of the basic mistakes I see is the inability of companies to perfectly define and communicate their unique value proposition. That’s an important key in creating the marketing messaging. I’ve also seen many companies that see a certain marketing success and want to duplicate it, without actually understanding whether it has a real chance to work in their space and for their particular product. Another common mistake that I see is startups that hire new marketing leaders that on the first day say “you need a new website”. Before even understanding your business and the the current stats of the existing website. In many cases the website may look "cooler", but won’t create any impact.
The true focus should be in building sustainable marketing channels, that depending on your market, should be a mix of inbound and outbound marketing. Lastly, I see startups hiring consultants that are not committed to their success, as their billing models are not aligned with their clients goals.
Tools I use for marketing:
- Number one tool is Google Analytics that allows me to analyze our marketing channels, allocate resources in the best way possible and further optimize relevant channels.
- WordPress is my preferred CMS for our blog
- Trello is a great tool to manage marketing projects that involved multiple team members.
- We are using SimilarTech to source lead-gen based on technologies used on their sites (e.g. E-Commerce platform the site is built on, specific tools they are using and we are complementing etc.)
- We're obviously using Commerce Sciences for testing and personalization on our blog, website and landing pages to optimize the funnel and dramatically capture more leads.
- Another resource, I’m a big believer in leveraging, is Upwork (or any other similar marketplaces) in which you can hire global talents within your budget, and expand your productiveness.
People I Follow:
- Tim Ferris (the author of Four Hours Work Week) has a great blog and very inspiring podcasts with people from different spaces.
- Neil Patel, for people who are interested in more direct SEO related tactics
- Larry Kim for SEM related content I’d recommend .
- Iris Shoor who recently started her 3rd startup, and is sharing all the real inside stuff. She recently posted about her fundraising process and shared her investor deck. Worth reading.
What I read:
I’ve recently read The Challenger Sale which is a great source for modern sales people or those who wants to learn the sales art. Another inspirational book is Remote from the founders of 37signals who share with the readers their path for building remote teams. I believe that this is how the majority high tech workplaces will look like in the future, and the rest will follow. The advantages of hiring people based on their talent rather than on their particular location extends the ability for organizations to hire the right talents, it gives the employees the freedom they need to live modern life with reduced frustration involved in commuting, not to mention that offices can be quite destructive especially in modern open spaces and the sense that anyone who needs something from you or just want to share with you the latest office gossip can tap on your shoulder. I have no doubt that the greatest leaders of the future will need to adapt remote management habits in order to lead their organizations and see great success. One of the my favorite quotes from the book is that if you can trust one to work from home, there’s no reason for you to trust her working from the office.
You can follow Omri on Twitter, and connect with him on LinkedIn