V-cast with NextUser:Growth with first brand adoption

Host: Richard Fallah, CEO at VBOUT.

Guest Speaker: Matthieu Dejardins, AI, 1:1 Personalization & OmniChannel – CEO at Nextuser


In this episode of top marketer podcast, we interview Matthieu Dejardins from Nextuser.com to share his journey on how he grew his AI MarTech company through existing network of startups and brand connections.

Amazing startup solving omni-channel marketing challenges with brands and empowering better personalization by activating infographic, firmgraphic, geographic and psychographic details of potential buyers.

Matthieu used his existing network of startups to get first adopters then offered his product to brands as a free pilot before committing for a longer contract period.

What’s NextUser?

NextUser has the same capabilities as Amazon in terms of Data. We give these data to any brand or retailer ecommerce website. Basically, we collect data and aggregate them into what we call “user profile”, and then, we use this user profile to trigger marketing personalization. So in a retail environment, we have a shopping assistant to help you online.

What’s your business model?

We are a SaaS platform and we sell the client a subscription. They pay us and use the tool on a monthly basis.

How is the contract made? How do you work with your brands?

What we do is a pilot of 6 months basically. The goal of the pilot is to validate the contribution of what we are really selling every time we do an A/B test, whether with/without NextUser. And what we want to prove at the end of the pilot is that for every 1 dollar invested in the solution, they get 5 to 32 dollars in terms of return on investment. And then, after the pilot, we increase more marketing channels, more countries, artificial intelligence and many more…

Do you have a sort of long term contract to be able to work with these companies?

Yes. Basically, we make them pay during the pilot and what we want them to do after the pilot is to increase what we are charging by 2, 3 to 4 times and more on the long term like 6, 12 to 16 months. So, it’s like acquiring new clients. This is why we don’t focus on too many clients but the ones whom we can scale with, because they have an international presence, different types of marketing channels that we can increase and also a lot of predictive and AI needs.

Do you mainly work with big brands?

No. We started when we were doing the MVP with 3 startups but we were spending a lot of time to help understand the marketing and then use the platform, which was a bit problematic, and then after what we did is moving to SMB market. But as you described, 4 and a half years ago, we were selected by IBM Watson to show the future of artificial intelligence to Mr Richard Branson. After that, we immediately worked with Nestle Purina in the U.S, in St. Louis Missouri, and in the following year, we won the Universe Starter Battle in Asia. After that, we worked with large corporate accounts.

At the beginning, I was not aware that such solution was required, but it has built up over time. And essentially, all the focus shifts from SMBs to large corporate accounts.

In terms of sales and marketing strategy, how did you acquire the first customers?

The first one was really like a startup but they were not paying. The first paying client was working with me in a previous company as a VP of a product at art.com. Then, he became a GM of book websites. To me, it was similar to Amazon but with an independent reseller, 15 thousands of them have 7 million SKUs; it’s called alibris.com where it’s basically located in Emeryville in California. And as we worked a lot, I was responsible for all the testing optimization. I helped my client with conversion and acquisition of other clients, so this is how my first client was acquired.

Was there some sort of a trick or technique that you’ve done to get your first brand on board?

No, it was just using PR like big brands. Then, we’ve got selected by a company called “Evolutions”. They have another name called “Startup for Brands”, and they helped us to pitch a big company
with innovation and CRM team and it worked very well. This is how we secured them. The single was in Universe Starter Battle. It also worked pretty well again and we won 3 different projects with them.

What’s the current winning lead generation channel for the company?

For us, it’s really the partner network. In the past, we didn’t really have like partners but we started working with Accenture for French government electricity company. We work with Ernst & Young (EY) through a bank in Europe and also an insurance company in the U.S. We work also with Boston Consulting Group “BCG”. So we didn’t acquire all these leads in one year, but we’re now recognized, we have really use cases in different types of industries. We also have 60 integrations with different types of partners so it could be CRM, big data like Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce crooks…

Does it pay back if you’re consistent with your channel partner?

Yes, and there’s also a second advantage as well that I’m focusing on which is developing a platform that’s focused on owning the client instead of spending too much time with that client, explaining him stuff and organizing brainstorming. This platform is also responsible for the innovation roadmap.

What’s the average price tag for your monthly license?

It’s really pending on three factors: First one is the number of data we collect. Second one is the number of marketing applications we have integrations with. And the third one is the pilot we do. We deploy all the initiatives that we have for them so it’s basically from a couple of thousand dollars to $10000 for a pilot if we have a very big audience which is around 15, 20, 25 million unique visitors per month and it’s a big corporation.

Have you tested anything with paid acquisition like Facebook, Google ads or anything alike?

Absolutely. We have online advertising, we use a GDN Google network, display network, we use Facebook but mostly in retargeting. As I mentioned we have this partner network, and innovation event of partners that help us open some doors like industrial association, Chamber of commerce, Alumni network. We also have a network with founder institutes.

So these are not really part of your paid channels but more of identifying events, aren’t they?

No. For paid, we have retargeting, we are expanding it a bit like in display and not doing any ad via Google Adwords yet because it’s expensive. LinkedIn is a bit expensive as well per click. But we will do that mostly in September. What we’re doing now is revamping the site and developing white papers.

Will paid channels be the best for you in the future?

What I could do is to potentially sponsor some slideshares which are purchased by LinkedIn so it’s less transactional. It’s more like a long term sell so we can generate interest, but we need good vehicles such as white papers, case studies, etc…

How long is your sales cycle typically from the first touch point to the moment you close, approximately?

Good question. If it’s an ecommerce retail, it’s 4 to 6 months. If it’s a bank or a government company or CPG where they don’t sell directly online, I would say 6 to 12 months and 9 months on average.

So the awareness stage is probably a quarter to two quarters and the second segment (banks and such) are upwards to 3 quarters.

So, are there a lot of content to consume in order to understand the product?

No. What we do is we have a series of 4 – 5 meetings with them so we propose Google analytics. The way we do it for free is by connecting it to Google analytics. Therefore we sign an NDA and it’s a bit engaging and then we have like 20 initiatives that they can do.

Have you done any cold outreach?

Yes, I did it 3 – 4 years ago. It took a lot of effort and it was not good for us. What I did is warm introduction which is using a network of peers and asked them about the introduction for innovation of some companies and CRM, and it’s working way more meaning like I have 60 – 70% of success rate, while with cold outreach, it was 2 – 5% and I needed to compile a lot lists to get to the same level. So warm introduction is working much better.

Would you say your LinkedIn is a good channel for you for lead gen?

Yes. We do a lot of blog posts and thematics… We have a post which is synchronized by Zapier whenever we post something on social media. It’s just a reminder that we are here.

What do you think is AI today? Is AI overhyped? And what’s your recommendations for a company who’s gonna start marketing, tech specializing or having AI?

Well, everyone thinks he has AI, so it’s a bit complicated and when you get into the details, it’s not very precise for us. What we do is the same philosophies “marketing and data”. Sometimes, we create a one solution and productize it and make it available for something else. For example, we analyze Instagram pictures and we can also understand sentiment and keyword analysis coming from Twitter, Facebook or any other channel. And on top of this, we can infer the personality of someone. So this is really like 3 products in one: one coming from Google Cloud, another from IBM and another one was created by us. So it’s a mix for starting in AI. What you need to do is start with a very problematic way. You have a lot in terms of industry manufacturing, so think about a specific vertical and after that, you can still enlarge your product and what you deliver from one specific use case. Because like now, there are other guys at the broad AI. It’s a big complex for them to sell. One the example is IBM Watson, there’s a much better in AI and I don’t think they are very successful. For Amazon, they are doing pretty well but it’s not an easy sell. It needs to have an integration channel.

Thank you Matthieu Dejardins and NextUser for the great interview.