Q&A with Larry Kim, Founder and VP Marketing at MobileMonkey

Media 7 | January 12, 2021

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Larry Kim, Founder and VP Marketing at MobileMonkey, is a notable expert on chatbot marketing, AdWords, Facebook Ads, entrepreneurship, and start-ups. He’s been named Search Marketer of the Year from PPC Hero, Search Engine Land, and the US Search Awards. He also won special recognition from the United States Senate & House of Representatives for his work in creating jobs in the Boston economy.

MEDIA 7: How did you come up with the idea of MobileMonkey?
LARRY KIM:
In a nutshell, we tried to re-imagine marketing automation software from a mobile-first perspective and using messaging channels as the primary communication channel as opposed to email.
Add to that the fact that I have two boys age 1 and 5 who love monkeys, and the result was the creation of MobileMonkey, a leading OmniChat messaging platform for SMS, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and Website chat!

Anything that humans do that is repetitive and can be expressed in terms of rules will be replaced by AI. Yet there are still many, many existing classes of applications that will be completely re-envisioned using AI.


M7: What are the benefits of using an AI-driven platform for communication? Will chatbots become the future of communication?
LK:
When we started MobileMonkey a few years ago we built out a lot of AI components for automatically answering user questions.
It worked reasonably well around 95% of the time, but missed the mark around 5% of the time.

The bot was a little too snarky or could just get things wrong due to insufficient information. Our customers were a bit off-put by the incorrect answers, even if it happened in a small minority of the cases, and people’s expectations were just so high – that we had to scale back that project.

Today, we still leverage AI capabilities but in a more constrained way. For example, instead of using open-ended questions like “how can I help you today?” we recommend using the chatbots to ask more specific questions by combining them with “menus”, for example: “can I help you with (a) sales, (b) customer service (c) store hours and address”. We still need to use natural language processing to make sense of the wide variety of answers that come back, yet we have dramatically constrained the scope by which the bot needs to operate.

I think that AI has an important role to play going forward but that it will take a little longer for the technology to fully mature to meet the challenges. Google, for example, has spent decades trying to turn their search engine into an answer engine and chatbots will probably take a similar tack.

M7: What are the best practices followed by MobileMonkey to offer an ideal customer experience?
LK:
We recommend that businesses use MobileMonkey to connect with their customers on the messaging platforms they already use every day, including Facebook Messenger, SMS, Web Chat, and Instagram. More platforms are being added in 2021 including WhatsApp.

There are a lot of similarities of using messaging vs. using email including:

-Getting clear opt-in messaging permissions from the customer

-Providing relevant and interesting content

-Ways that user expectations in messaging is different from email communication include:

-Preference for shorter-form content, for example, providing an update or asking a question via messaging rather than sending out long-form content.

-Expectation of near-instantaneous responses


It’s important to be able to quickly identify the few ideas/campaigns that are producing the most benefits  and to focus hard on those areas, and to be brutally honest in identifying the ideas/campaigns that are going nowhere and killing them off as quickly as possible.


M7: What are the challenges that you face regarding handling and maintaining such a highly developed platform?
LK:
Early in the company lifecycle, the challenges were all technological in nature: building the product, making it work fast, designing it to be easier to use, etc. The work here continues but because it was designed well, it doesn’t require constant re-work.

Today, now that we have achieved a larger scale with hundreds of thousands of businesses on board, I find that most of the challenges are related to other elements of the business including sales, marketing, and customer service.

M7: You are a weekly columnist with Inc. Magazine and a regular blogger at Medium. How do you maintain a balance between your work and take out time for writing?
LK:
Writing is just like talking. If someone asks you a question about a topic you are familiar with, then you should be able to just answer the questions off-the-cuff, based on your pre-existing knowledge of the subject material. My writing is like that.

I’m not a reporter researching new topics – I’m just summarizing or documenting stuff I’ve recently learned or experienced elsewhere. So, it usually only takes about an hour or less so to write up a post.


Writing is just like talking. If someone asks you a question about a topic you are familiar with, then you should be able to just answer the questions off-the-cuff, based on your pre-existing knowledge of the subject material.


M7:  How do you predict AI changing the world around us in 2021?
LK:
Anything that humans do that is repetitive and can be expressed in terms of rules will be replaced by AI. This is not new – it is already happening. Yet there are still many, many existing classes of applications that will be completely re-envisioned using AI.

M7:  The marketing mantra that you swear by?
LK:
My marketing mantra is: “Be a Unicorn in a Sea of Donkeys!”
What I mean by this is that is that I have found that it is generally the case that most of the value created by your marketing is based on one or two of your most successful campaigns - the rest of your work was a waste of time and contributed essentially nothing.

I, therefore, believe that it’s important to be able to quickly identify the few ideas/campaigns that are producing the most benefit (the “unicorns”)  and to focus hard on those areas, and to be brutally honest in identifying the ideas/campaigns that are going nowhere (the “donkeys”) and killing them off as quickly as possible.

ABOUT MOBILEMONKEY

MobileMonkey is a leading provider of Omnichat Messaging Solutions for SMS, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and Website Chat, used by hundreds of thousands of businesses worldwide.