Marketing Maverick: Deborah Kay, Founder, Digital Discovery/Head Digital Transformation – Singapore Sailing Federation #APACLeaders

Paul Writer interviewed Deborah Kay for our Marketing Maverick series on #APACLeaders. Deborah is the founder of Digital Discovery and has been the Head of Digital Transformation at the Singapore Sailing Federation where she has been building organisational capabilities around analytics, automation and artificial intelligence and built a customer obsessed culture at the Federation which is a non-profit.  She has also been the co-developer of Sammy, the world’s first artificially intelligent Chatbot for sailing. She shares her thoughts on the marketing scenario of today.

  1. With innovative disruption changing the digital economy, customer expectations are on the rise. How have you changed your digital marketing strategies to deal with rising customer expectations? 

Today’s customers are digitally savvy and always on their mobiles. They’re also impatient, and are overwhelmed with choice. So in terms of digital marketing, we try to make everything (e.g. information, customer service) as convenient as possible for our customers, via as many touchpoints / platforms as possible, whenever they need us.

  1. How much impact does your social media strategy, and mobile app marketing have on your ROI? What are the online platforms that work well for your organization? 

We see social media as a wonderful way to build and engage a community. For us, social media is not so much a channel to “sell” or a channel that “must deliver ROI”.

It’s a fantastic way to start conversations, to gather feedback and to better understand who our customers are.

It is not to say that social media has no role in driving sales. The path-to-purchase for today’s consumer is a non-linear path, with many touchpoints (website, social media, email, print, word of mouth, a physical store).

Social media is one of many touchpoints in the customer journey. So we can’t evaluate platforms in isolation, rather we try to look holistically at how the different platforms work together to achieve ROI.

  1. Influencer marketing, AR/VR, chatbots, hyper-personalized marketing are the growing trends of today. As a modern marketer, what is your view on the use of MarTech in your marketing strategy?

We love technology – and it’s constantly changing which makes the space very exciting.

We are very active on the Chatbot front – at the Singapore Sailing Federation, we have a regatta bot called Sammy that is used to deliver real-time wind speed, as well as regatta results to parents and sailors. The bot has an NPS of 88% and 97% of users say we must keep Sammy for future regattas.

At ColorMeHappy Cosmetics, we have a lipstick bot called Happy who can analyse your skin tone and recommend lipsticks to you. She delivers weekly beauty looks for inspiration and sends our customers promo codes during sales.

AR/VR is a new space that we are extremely excited about – especially when integrated within a chatbot. We are doing some early work in the AR space and with 360-degree video.

Influencer marketing is also something we have tried at ColorMeHappy Cosmetics – and we found the most success with micro influencers for ROI. (Read more about our micro influencer strategy here).

  1. In what ways do you think AI, Data and Machine Learning are transforming the way we are approaching marketing today?

AI will bring two major benefits for marketing – Automation and Personalisation at scale.

The four big areas of AI are: Computer Vision, Natural Language Generation (NLG), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Sentiment Analysis / Personality Insights.

With natural language generation, simple tasks like producing reports, writing of blog post and even email subject lines will be automated in the near future. This will free up time for humans to do other things.

When you combine automation with NLG, NLP with sentiment analysis/personality insights, you can achieve mass personalisation at scale – whereby a Chatbot can deliver real-time information/services to you, with a tone of voice designed to appeal to your personality 24 hours a day.

You can read more about my thoughts on AI in marketing here.

  1. How do you describe a modern marketer of today?

A modern marketer is tech-savvy, knows a bit of analytics and a bit of coding. Their finger is always on the pulse. Things in the industry move so fast, you have to be constantly watching for new trends, new tools, and new developments. You snooze you lose.


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