Q&A with Neha Sampat, CEO at Contentstack

Media 7 | January 13, 2021

Neha Sampat, Founder and CEO at Contentstack, has been named as one of the “50 Women in Tech Dominating Silicon Valley” in 2015 and “San Francisco Business Times Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business” in 2017. Previously, she has been the Founder and CEO of Digital Experience Platform (DXP) Built.io®, which was acquired by German software powerhouse Software AG in September 2018. Neha can be found appearing on keynote stages or expert panels discussing her experiences as an entrepreneur, a female leader, or her company’s role in the future of technology.You can also tune in to her newest endeavor, Dreammakers Podcast, where Neha interviews changemakers, visionaries and interesting people over a glass of wine.

Content has become the key to customer retention, and organizations are focused on leveraging it more than ever before.


MEDIA 7: You have a long track record of successfully working in multiple roles and managing diverse marketing teams. How did you come up with the idea of Contentstack?
NEHA SAMPAT:
Digital transformation became an enterprise reality for most organizations due to a culmination of modern tech trends in companies. I ran a professional services firm called Raw Engineering to help companies address all of these changes. Cloud computing was still new. Employees started to bring their smartphones to work and expected to use apps to be productive. People started to make traditional IT purchases by swiping a credit card to use a tool they needed to get work done. This led to a new array of challenges in an organization including a constant tug of war between business and technology practitioners. Further, expectations that brands would deliver more dynamic, more personalized content to more channels escalated.

Traditional content management platforms were created more than 25 years ago, built to address the needs of an IT team that manages a static website. These tools did not account for the changing role of business practitioners and marketers who could not directly use these tools to do their jobs. There was nothing available on the market to address the changing digital content needs of transforming businesses. We built Contentstack to help address all of these new challenges and spun this out of the consultancy into a product company to focus on this growing market. Today, the power and burden of dynamic content delivery fall not only on technologists but also marketers. Empowering both sides of the business has become critical to a company’s success, which is a core advantage when using Contentstack.  

Content has become the key to customer retention, and organizations are focused on leveraging it more than ever before. Our mission is to enable brands to use digital experiences to create deeper customer connections, and make an impact on the interactions consumers have with businesses across digital channels, devices, and platforms.

M7: How does Contentstack ensure an improved ROI to its users?
NS:
At Contentstack, we think about the term “Return on Experience (ROX)” as much more relevant than just Return on Investment (RoI). It includes those elements that are difficult to measure and can’t easily be attached to a “money in, money out” dollar model. While ROI is a tried-and-true baseline metric for determining the profitability of a monetary investment, it’s no longer enough to determine success based on the performance of financial investments alone. Modern businesses know it’s also vital to look at the impact of experiences — even when they don’t immediately translate to cash flow.

Measuring RoX helps organizations understand the value they are getting on investments, for example, customer engagement, or brand experience, and clearly outlines which digital initiatives to invest in to win. Where ROI captures the value created by a specific action, ROX focuses on how changes to the customer experience positively impact customer lifetime value and the financial well-being of the business. It’s a helpful gauge of how well a customer interacts with a brand and how likely they are to do so again. Contentstack works with its customers to create a framework for measuring this return over time.


While ROI is a tried-and-true baseline metric for determining the profitability of a monetary investment, it’s no longer enough to determine success based on the performance of financial investments alone.

M7: What channels do you think are the most relevant for content marketing? How do you gauge which ones are the most promising, given your target customers?
NS:
In today’s world, many channels are relevant, hence the importance for brands to establish an omnichannel strategy. The purchase journey is no longer as linear as it once was. These days, consumers often switch between many different channels and touchpoints before making a buying decision. Then they continue to use various channels to engage with the brand in the after-sales process.

As personalized digital experiences become more prevalent, the most promising content channels will become as individualized by target customers. By establishing an omnichannel play, you can ensure your customers’ experience of your brand is consistent across all of your channels and that they can move seamlessly between different channels, regardless of where they choose to spend their time. An omnichannel approach attempts to meet customers wherever they are, adapting the engagement strategy to suit the brand’s customer profiles.

M7: What challenges do you face while handling and maintaining such a highly developed AI platform?
NS:
Contentstack was the first modern content management system (CMS) to embed AI into its Editor Experience. Turnkey integrations with IBM Watson, Salesforce Einstein, and MonkeyLearn have allowed Contentstack customers to leverage AI to create highly personalized digital experiences that go beyond standard demographics and traditional audience segmentation. In many ways, AI and CMS are a match made in heaven -- at least, for end-users of a CMS. Amidst all the excitement surrounding AI, one thing is clear: There is a lot of real-time development happening, and no single vendor or solution is set to dominate the market.

In theory, AI can be applied to almost any domain, but since it learns from past behavior, a special-purpose AI is typically more useful than a generalized one. For a CMS vendor to limit themselves to embedding a single AI (built in-house or not) into its product suite is foregoing the benefits of all the innovation taking place. Instead, CMS products should be architected to take advantage of AI as they become useful and emerge as best-in-class for a particular domain. This is where a platform like Contentstack is set up to win as the era of pluggable, composable AI solutions has just begun.


An omnichannel approach attempts to meet customers wherever they are, adapting the engagement strategy to suit the brand’s customer profiles.

M7: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work? What processes did you re-tool to be able to manage your team remotely?
NS:
This year, our management team was faced with the challenge of maintaining productivity, employee morale, and company culture amidst a global pandemic. Our Global Head of People worked with every employee to ensure that unique home dynamics were transformed into optimal work stations to maintain the high level of customer experience Contentstack’s clients expect, while still meeting privacy standards.

During the last nine months, maintaining the organization’s culture has been essential. We hosted virtual events to replicate some of our favorite team bonding exercises -- a global virtual celebration for St. Patrick’s Day, countless virtual “social” hours, stretching breaks, and more. Team members organized weekly remote exercise classes to ensure our team stays active and connected. We also instituted Summer Fridays, which allowed employees to take time away to spend time doing things that they enjoy.

While how we work has changed this year, what is important to us has not. The trust our customers place in us, the importance of continual growth, our sense of tribe, the joy of working with each other, and our responsibility to our community has provided a touchstone to keep us focused and motivated.

M7: Can you tell us about some of the most interesting projects that you have worked on, to date?
NS:
It’s been inspiring to witness how Contentstack has empowered our customers to weather this last year and nearly seamlessly pivot to embrace the “new normal” for business. For example - in response to the global pandemic all in-person events were either canceled or transitioned into a virtual event. Our client Ellie Mae had its annual user event scheduled, with an estimated 3,500+ attendees. Instead of canceling, Ellie Mae quickly pivoted to hosting a virtual event. Within six weeks, the team organized a full-scale digital event and relied on technology to create new assets, collateral, market the event, register attendees, and determine a live-streaming strategy. Using a headless API-first architecture, they were able to take content including sessions and keynotes, and virtualize them. The event exceeded all expectations: Not only did the number of attendees double to 7,000, but Ellie Mae was also able to gather new and valuable data at previously impossible levels, including attendee behavior, preferences and engagement. This allowed the organizers to determine what content was most useful, relevant and interesting for future interactions.

Organizations are embracing digital transformation in order to provide customers with a more streamlined, thoughtful, and engaging experience that allows companies large or small to remain competitive in this increasingly challenging market. One such example is our client, The Spectator. It’s no secret that the publishing industry has experienced significant challenges, from reduced advertising spend, to mass layoffs of staff, to the loss of print newspaper subscriptions (and a preference for digital content). The 200-year-old magazine is now working with Contentstack to enhance its reader experience to create a more personalized reader experience with a more customized online layout.

ABOUT CONTENTSTACK

Contentstack combines the best of Content Management System (CMS) and Digital Experience Platform (DXP) technology. It enables enterprises to manage content across all digital channels and create inimitable digital experiences. Renowned for earning the highest customer satisfaction in the industry, Contentstack pioneered the headless CMS category and combines content infrastructure with the industry's #1 integration capabilities to deliver a best-in-class Content Experience Platform (CXP).

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Contentstack – the pioneer in API-first, headless CMS technology – accelerates and simplifies content management across today's and tomorrow's digital channels, including web, mobile and IoT. From desktops to smart phones, from kiosks to smart watches, from billboards to jumbotrons, from dashboards ...

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