Reimagining Chatbots: Larry Kim, Mobile Monkey

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If you are a search marketer, it is unlikely that you wouldn’t have heard of Word Stream. The company is a leading provider of Google AdWords, and Facebook tools. Word Stream has empowered organizations of all sizes by helping them with their marketing efforts. After spending nearly a decade building Word Stream, Larry Kim, the co-founder, and CTO of the company, is now on to his next adventure.

Larry Kim founded MobileMonkey in 2017, a chatbot building platform that connects customers in real-time via Web Chat, SMS, and Facebook Messenger. Larry is a prolific author and actively participates in digital marketing communities. Larry’s perspective on marketing and his ability to connect with his audience makes him one of the most sought-after marketers today.

When we reached out to Larry Kim for this interview, he was gracious to accept our request. In this interview, Larry Kim talks about his new company, MobileMonkey, his perspective on chatbots & more.

How did you come up with the idea of MobileMonkey? Has the idea evolved from the time it was conceived?

Around 2014 the world started to notice that marketing campaign performance was radically different on mobile vs. desktop. I saw that messaging, and web chat was way more effective than conventional landing pages and email blasts and thought about re-imagining the standard marketing software stack in a mobile-first way.

In 2017 we started MobileMonkey with Facebook Messenger tools – why? Because it had developer support and a huge audience to go after. Since then, we’ve added web chat tools as well as tools for SMS marketing. Our goal is to provide businesses with a unified chat inbox and chat marketing automation tools for all the popular messaging channels used by your customers today.

How has your journey been so far, and was starting up again easier considering you have already done this before (by building the WordStream brand)?

MobileMonkey in just a few years has racked up hundreds of thousands of businesses as users and annual revenues in the 7-figures.

There are a lot of differences between my last company vs. MobileMonkey. In terms of the target market, WordStream targeted companies spending money on Facebook and Google Ads. By contrast, most MobileMonkey customers are smaller and spend little to nothing on advertising.

Another difference is in the sales model: MobileMonkey is a 100% online sale (self-service) whereas WordStream was more of a “solution sale” – to give you an idea of what that means, at the time I was there the company employed nearly a hundred business development people!

These are major differences in the target market and sales model, which means our chatbot tools needs to be built and marketed in a significantly different way.

Have you seen the usage of chatbots evolving among customers? 

Early on, we saw a ton of interest in chat blasting (also known as Facebook Messenger Broadcasting or SMS blasting) – essentially, that’s like doing an email blast but via messaging channels. 

But there’s even more value when businesses try to engage customers in a more personalized manner via messaging channels – using our tools that help manage omnichannel chat conversations and automate processing and responding to those inquiries.

What challenges are you planning to solve with your product, OmniChat?

We’re an OmniChat platform for sales, marketing, and customer service, allowing businesses to connect with their customers using the messaging platforms they already use every day.

What is OmniChat?

With Google’s recent announcement on phasing out third-party cookies, how do you think marketers should prepare for a cookie-less world? As marketers, aren’t we experiencing a time where our sources of collecting data are getting narrower by the day?

Over the last decade, marketers have gotten so used to gaining increasingly granular targeting methods every quarter. Since it’s all going away, we’re just going to have to go back to doing more conventional marketing activities like brand building or leveraging marketing channels that aren’t dependent on cookies, like MobileMonkey’s messaging platform.

What qualities do you look for in potential hires, and how can prospective job seekers prepare for a role in marketing?

I look at their past marketing campaigns. Blog posts, email campaigns, video efforts, social media platforms, etc. Have they ever done anything interesting or remarkable in the past. 

Job seekers should start a blog, install Google Analytics, create social media pages, a YouTube channel (etc.), and just start experimenting with different types of content to get practice. No expensive or time-consuming college degrees are required here – there’s just so much free learning materials out there. 

How do you manage your time between managing your social media presence and running marketing for Mobile Monkey?

I leverage tools and automation to find things to share. A VA helps schedule and publish the content. It’s not a huge effort.

Has the current pandemic changed your perspective on any aspect of marketing? Do you think we are moving into a contact-less future where digital consumption will increase?

Web Chat & Messaging are established marketing technologies, but we saw our daily installs double in March of 2020, and it’s stayed more or less at these elevated levels since them. Companies still need to communicate with customers; it is just moved from in-store to messaging, video, and other communication platforms.

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