Julie Ginches, CMO at Kahuna Talks Mobile Marketing Automation

Artyom Dogtiev

In App People

March 18, 2016

Julie Ginches

Julie Ginches joined Kahuna in May 2015 as the Chief Marketing Officer. Prior to Kahuna, she was the CMO at eXelate and Rubicon Project. Julie’s background also includes executive roles at DataXu, Jumptap, Autonomy, and Fast Search Transfer. She received both her Bachelor’s degree and MBA in Marketing from Suffolk University.

Julie is an authority on marketing and communications with a keen understanding of what it takes to translate a product value proposition into personalized language and deliver it to highly targeted audiences at the most impactful time. Whether building communities, social media programs, unique conferences and events, websites, viral marketing, public relations, or lead generation, her reputation is for “doing the hard things, and doing them right.”

Julie is also recognized as an innovative digital change agent with a proven track for creating world class marketing organizations and received recognition by Venture Beat as a “Top 20 CMO” in the New England region. 

Most recently, Julie led the announcement of Kahuna’s $45 million Series B funding round and the strategy behind the company’s new platform launch. Her leadership helped Kahuna achieve great success with the announcement, garnering attention from The Wall Street Journal, AdWeek, Digiday, and CMSWire, and many other outlets. 

What’s your job title and what does this involve?

I’m the Chief Marketing Officer at Kahuna. This means that I have global responsibility for Kahuna’s brand, strategic planning, product marketing, demand generation, and communications. I also lead the company’s efforts in educating and empowering marketers who are making the historic transition to be more data-driven.

Where do you work in the app industry and what does the company do?

Kahuna provides multi-channel marketing automation for the mobile era. Even the best marketers today are struggling to get a unified view of their customers and deliver timely, relevant, brand experiences at every touch point. We’re addressing this challenge head on with a platform that’s outperforming solutions from our competitors, including incumbents in the space such as ExactTarget (Salesforce) and Responsys (Oracle). Why? Older systems were architected with an email-based model which inherently is asynchronous; it’s ok if my email is delivered to me a few hours from now, and it’s ok if I read it later.  But the systems weren’t architected for real-time engagement. In addition, the older systems are largely patchworks of disparate technologies rather than truly integrated platforms. With a true, real-time integrated platform, we’re on the right side of disruption in a market that’s growing fast.

What are the big trends you see in the app market right now? 

First, we stand on the brink of what we and the industry are calling the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” — a digital transformation coming at breakneck speed that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. I anticipate that this transformation will be unlike anything we have experienced before because it’s evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Marketers will need to be digitally progressive and agile enough to address these challenges and opportunities.

Second, mobile changes everything. There will be 3X more smartphones than PCs by 2020, giving consumers frictionless and easy access to sensors, cameras, location data, payments and global social sharing.

Finally, there’s the phenomenon that consumers can simultaneously pay attention to only a limited number of sources of incoming information. We all need fewer, smarter, and more meaningful engagement touch points from brands.  Less is more, and marketers will need to think about the most unique, brand-enhancing ways to engage with their customers.

What is the best thing about working in apps and mobile?

My favorite aspect of the app industry is the rate at which the technology is evolving and disrupting every vertical. Five years ago, apps were just taking off. Today, app-only businesses are displacing old-school incumbents. The growth, in part, can be attributed to the way marketers are able to leverage the behavioral data that can be collected on mobile devices. It delivers a unique opportunity for brands to understand how each individual customer responds to each of its messages — on every channel — and to predict what they need in the current interaction. But to achieve this, the modern marketer must move away from traditional marketing to tactics that are real-time, event-triggered, in-bound, multi-stage, and, yes, multi-channel.

What is the one thing you’d like to change about the app business?

The one big change I’d like to see: app marketers thinking more holistically and re imagining the funnel. Currently, you generate awareness, acquire the customer, and then activate. But they need to invest in all stages of the funnel — awareness, consideration, activation, and most important, engagement and loyalty. The costs of not thinking about engagement and loyalty as the key drivers of driving value from your customer base can be devastating. Most users churn in the first 30 days (64%), 90% in a year. You can spend big bucks on acquiring app users whose chances of sticking with their app for more than a month are slim because you are failing to engage them, drive repeat revenue and leverage them as advocates in order to keep future acquisition profitable.

If you didn’t work in apps, what would be your dream job?

I am, in fact, living my dream job. What could be more exciting than being at the forefront of an emerging tech category that helps brands use technology to understand customers and personally engage them at scale. From my POV, it’s one of the biggest opportunities today in all of tech, and I am thrilled to be at a company whose customers understand this.

What mobile devices do you use?

I used to have two cell phones, an iPad and two laptops. With the introduction of larger sized phones, I have managed to consolidate to one phone and one laptop.

What are your favorite apps and games?

I don’t play online games, and my apps are limited to the ones that keep my personal and professional life happy, healthy, and organized. For example, I am a big fan of Yummly for recipes, Head Space for meditation, Level One for managing money, and Hotel Tonight for business and personal travel. And, of course, I use multiple social apps for staying in touch with my personal and professional networks.

What do you think of the Apple Watch?

The Apple Watch has been called “the most personal device ever.” However, what many don’t understand is that intimacy means responsibility, particularly when it comes to mobile marketing. While its size and cost are still prohibitive from a consumer perspective, modern marketers should be looking at the Apple Watch to:

  • Increase consumer engagement: Receiving a push notification on an Apple Watch is an extremely personal affair, in part because the ease of access is unprecedented — a simple flick of the wrist. As a result, the chances that users will see each push is high because the newer platform means less competition for attention.
  • Receive a holistic view of the consumer: The Apple Watch is yet another touch point that brands must take under consideration, and knowing how users are engaging with their smartwatches is just as critical as how they are engaging with their phones, tablets, and laptops/desktops. Having these insights will help brands send effective messages — cross-device and cross-channel — that are never redundant.
  • Pioneer a new channel of communication: As a Boston gal, I was pretty pumped that the Patriot’s Apple Watch app was one of the first apps available the day the store opened. While it didn’t get much use from me, my husband used it to receive live NFL draft updates that were delivered directly to his left wrist, while his right hand made the trades and picks he wanted most. As a marketer it was hard to ignore the impact this new device can have.

In my opinion, the use cases for the Apple Watch are endless and we’ve only just started to see the potential. I continue to look forward to this evolution and to see even more intimate forms of wearable technology take hold.

Thank you for the great interview, Julie! If you want to know more about Julie and what Kahuna does visit Kahuna.com.

If you are working in the app industry and would like to be profiled here then please contact us.