In the modern era of rapid business and industry transformations, the way to brand success lies in the ability of the business to offer a blended customer experience. Customer engagement can no more be achieved by selling only the best products; businesses have to focus on creating unique selling experiences as well. Considering the multitude of connected devices that customers today use to shop, businesses also need to look at leveraging omnichannel marketing to tie up all the channels together and deliver a unified and personalized customer experience.
Another important area to focus on is the A.I. revolution that has completely changed the way the consumer interaction with the brand occurs and how shopping is done. A.I. algorithms and customer data can be used to generate actionable insights on the exact customer preferences which can then help to deliver an unmatched convenience to the consumers. Moreover, businesses can also forecast in advance the inventory and outward product flow and when a consumer will be most interested in buying a particular product. This can enhance the efficiency of the business as well as expedite its supply chain operations.
Therefore, now it is obvious that without personalization, creating value for the audience can be next to impossible. At times, handling such processes and strategies can be extremely challenging for businesses. That’s where Digital Air Strike comes in as a leader in customer engagement and digital retailing. It can help businesses understand their customer needs, wants, and buying behavior even before they are aware of it. Consequently, the insights can be converted into meaningful strategies to better engage with the target audience.
So far, Digital Air Strike has helped 5000+ businesses to attract new customers, engage consumers, respond to leads, and build customer loyalty through its award-winning solutions that include A.I. powered intelligent messaging, patented lead response, innovative advertising technology, and managed service platforms to engage, improve, monitor, and manage consumer interactions for businesses in the United States, Canada, and 11 additional countries.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Alexi Venneri, Co-founder and CEO of Digital Air Strike, who was kind enough to share her journey, struggles, and successes with us. Presenting Digital Air Strike from Alex’s perspective.
What kind of organizations survive and flourish into the distant future?
Companies that are flexible, innovative, and always put their clients first will weather any storm… or pandemic. While many companies were closing, Digital Air Strike was developing new technology to help clients remain open and safe during COVID-19. The company launched its Virtual Retailing Program in March to help businesses leverage video, text messaging, social media, AI, and automation to transact safely with customers and allow consumers to do more researching, shopping, and buying online.
Embracing technology is especially important as more businesses have had to close their doors and lay off or furlough employees. Technology can fill the gaps when staff is limited. Even as businesses start to open their physical locations again, many customers will still feel the safest and most comfortable doing their shopping online at home. How companies learn to embrace this new normal is key to their success.
Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?
Alexi was among the first to recognize the power of social media in business-to-consumer marketing during the Great Recession. This was a time when businesses were cutting their marketing budgets but desperately needed revenue. Sound familiar? Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Alexi is continuing her passion for helping businesses continue to engage and transact online during this economic and health crisis. Today, Digital Air Strike is the leading social media, intelligent lead response technology, and consumer engagement company. Alexi’s natural leadership abilities and industry experience drove the company to innovate new products and solutions that help businesses. Whether through acquisitions or in-house development, the company has launched several new solutions recently including Credit Logix credit prequalification technology, which streamlines the vehicle financing process, and Response Path Power Text, a bulk text messaging solution that delivers timely, relevant information to consumers’ mobile devices.
In 2018, DAS acquired an artificial intelligence chat tech startup to help expand its tech offerings and growth in the health care industry. The AI messaging solution Response Path allows companies to more seamlessly interact with leads through a business’ website, Facebook Messenger and/or texting. In 2019, DAS acquired the assets of an ad tech lead generation company and a software company that simplifies leasing and financing operations for automotive retailers. These acquisitions represented the company’s largest expansion and helped round out its consumer engagement and digital retailing platform.
What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
One of the challenges of starting your own business is finding the right talent and getting enough new clients to keep the company afloat and pay employees. Alexi didn’t take a paycheck for at least the first six months as she established her clients in the auto industry. Landing a big deal with an auto manufacturer helped the company early on. Alexi continued to innovate and offer more solutions to the problems that dealers were facing related to digital marketing. The company grew, expanded, and hired more employees to fulfill those needs first for dealers, and then for other businesses, including healthcare, tire and service shops, and multi-family housing and senior communities.
How successful was your first project roll on?
Landing a big deal with a major auto manufacturer increased Digital Air Strike’s client base exponentially. Alexi rallied the company to ensure that the technology and team could support the client’s needs. Because of Digital Air Strike’s success, the partnership with the OEM continues today and has since expanded even more.
What kind of mixed responses have you received from your consumers over the years? How have they motivated you to shape your offerings and grow the company?
Digital Air Strike understands that businesses can be reluctant to adopt new technology, so with every offering, there’s a bit of education. Teaching companies how to best use social media, respond the right way to reviews, and optimize technology is not always the easiest sell. But showing results other businesses are getting helps. For example, Rice Toyota in Greensboro, North Carolina embraced DAS’ Virtual Retailing Program during the pandemic and used DAS’ Video Logix video tool to record, send, and track videos. They sold 10 cars in record time and had over 50 people click on their Video Logix video landing page. They learned the power of text messaging by sending out timely and effective news and specials. They received over 200 responses from one Response Path Power Text. Understanding the needs of your clients and adding new products and features to fill the gaps are key to moving your company forward.
‘Leaders cannot optimize results by themselves; they need employees’ support and assistance.’ How does your company interpret this saying?
Surrounding yourself with the right talent and employees who are working toward the same goal is important for any business, and that rings true for Digital Air Strike. Alexi has assembled a team of leaders with deep industry experience as well as those with diverse backgrounds. She looks for team members who embody the company’s core values: Passion in Action, Whatever It Takes, Think Like an Owner, and Clients Win. Alexi also seeks to find employees who are open to learning and growing to build the company.
Trust is a difficult attribute to measure and a delicate dynamic to maintain. How do you maintain this with your employees?
Transparency is important to maintain with your employees, especially during unprecedented times like the pandemic. Digital Air Strike hosted weekly, and now bi-weekly online company meetings, to keep employees apprised of how the company is doing, what each department is up to, and to continue recognizing employees who were going above and beyond with WIT (Whatever It Takes) awards. Alexi also has continued her regular meetings with new employees and those celebrating work anniversaries. What used to be monthly in-person lunches has now turned into virtual happy hours. The goal is to get feedback from employees to learn more about what they like about the company and suggestions they have to improve it. Alexi takes notes and shares the suggestions with managers to address and implement if appropriate. Many of the suggestions have improved processes and daily tasks within the company and supported employees to “Think Like an Owner.” Employees also get an Uber Eats gift card to order food at home and enjoy their meal and a drink during the happy hour.
What do you feel are the reasons behind your company’s reputation?
Digital Air Strike creates a five-star social media experience for consumers which converts them into engaged customers. Through excellent customer service, once-in-a-lifetime client appreciation parties at events like the annual NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) conference, and by speaking at and sponsoring dozens of panels and events throughout the year, Digital Air Strike continues its reputation as the leading consumer engagement technology solutions provider worldwide.
What do you feel is the significance of involving in the social community and CSR activities for organizations? What are your CSR initiatives?
Digital Air Strike has an established culture of charity through its DASCares initiative that involves giving back monthly to nonprofit organizations through donations, fundraising, and volunteerism. Helping others in need is near and dear to what DAS is all about. DAS has given hundreds of thousands of dollars back financially and countless hours through employee volunteerism to dozens of charities. The charities are chosen by employees and support causes meaningful to their backgrounds and families. For example, during August, Digital Air Strike put together several themed baskets to be auctioned off online to help the Phoenix, Arizona nonprofit, Helping Hands for Single Moms. DAS COO Erica Sietsma is a single mom herself, was raised by a single mother and as a board member of this group, it’s a nonprofit that she loves to support.
Knowing the Trailblazer
Alexi Venneri, Co-founder & CEO
Alexi started the Scottsdale-based company 10 years ago at her kitchen table after the marketing agency, where she worked, closed during the Great Recession. She knew businesses needed an inexpensive way to reach consumers and that social media provided that opportunity. Digital Air Strike was one of the first to develop tools and technology to help businesses leverage the reach of social media.
Alexi is a lifelong marketer and her varied experience includes working for Major League Baseball, a technology startup, and a large corporation. She’s always been fascinated by entrepreneurs and wrote a book about them called, Balls! 6 Rules for Winning Today’s Business Game.
“Digital Air Strike is always developing or acquiring new technology that helps clients and improves the overall customer experience through technology.”