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Helio Henriques | ALDI Portugal

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Welcome Helio Henriques, Digital Director, ALDI Portugal, sharing his insights on Future Trends, Generative AI, Gamification & MarTech Solutions, as part of the MarTech Thoughts series.

How do you describe your job to a 5-year-old?


Imagine a retail supermarket company is like a big fun movie. And guess what? The Digital Director is like the superhero director of that movie!

You know how in your favorite cartoons, there’s someone who makes sure everything looks awesome and works perfectly on a website or phone? Well, the Digital Director does that for the supermarket. Just like how Woody and Buzz from “Toy Story” have a chief who helps them with plans, the Digital Director helps the supermarket with cool digital plans.

Remember when Lightning McQueen in “Cars” had his dashboard to control everything in his car? The Digital Director is like the one who takes care of the supermarket’s digital dashboard. They make sure all the computer stuff, like the website where people order groceries, the cool machines that scan items at the checkout, and even the robot that helps stock shelves, all work super smoothly.

And you know how you have your special toys and games on your tablet? Well, the Digital Director makes sure that the supermarket’s website and apps are super fun and easy for people to use when they want to buy yummy food.

So, just like the boss in “The Incredibles” who makes sure all the superheroes have what they need to save the day, the Digital Director helps the supermarket be the best place to shop with lots of digital magic!

What is the one marketing platform/app/solution you can’t live without? Why?

Well, oddly enough, it’s email 🙂

Even with all the new and shiny platforms presented to us, pretty much on a daily basis. Email is still the one channel where I believe marketeers have full broad freedom to test and experiment with how to reach customers properly.

Hail First Party Data!

Currently, what are you primarily looking for in your digital marketing efforts? Awareness or engagement? Why?

As a company develops its digital marketing footprint I would say there’s a necessary cohabitation for both awareness and engagement. If it’s normal to initiate digital communication via awareness, as soon as the required footprint is set, engagement comes immediately after.

At your organisation, what tasks in marketing are good to automate and what tasks still need a human touch?

All that require a touch of care and love, should remain in the human realm.

Strategy, Creativity, Content Creation, even if backed partially automated, and Customer Care are fields that are still very connected and dependable on a human touch.

Digital Campaigns, Social Media planning/posting and Data Analysis, among others, are tasks that can be perfectly automated, even if only in part.

How do you see the skillsets needed for the marketing profession changing?

The idea of an everchanging landscape seems only to be underlined recently.

Technology will continue to have a huge role, sure, but I believe, we should not loose track that we are still working for people, towards human needs.

Expertise in Data management, Digital Marketing, AI and ML developments, and SEO will only grow in demand, but there are and will also be a ton of opportunities in marketing subdomains such as Strategy Development, Content Creation, Social Media, Customer Journey, etc.

We should be on top of the more important trends, sure, but without losing contact with core marketing responsibilities.

What will be the next evolution in marketing technology that we can expect in the coming years?

There’s a dozen next big things that anyone could identify. Again, AI/ML, AR/VR/MR, BlockChain, Predictive Analytics and the list could go on. I prefer to see it in terms of applicability, trying to connect the trends to what might be first realistically adopted and prioritised by marketing professionals, and in that sense, I would point out Hyper-Personalisation.

The next big thing could involve AI-driven creative content generation, sophisticated customer behaviour prediction, and enhanced automation in decision-making.

What are the key challenges when it comes to implementing Chatbots for the first time?

Cultural, Technological and Organizational.

Cultural, as Language nuances must be handled accordingly.

Technological, with the complexity regarding Natural Language Processing, Integration with existing or Legacy systems,

Organizational, where consistency across channels should be a priority. User experience and personalization for a human feel exchange. Managing expectations for both staff and customers on what the tool can and cannot do, making sure that all Privacy concerns are addressed.

What is the best use of technology you have seen during this time of uncertainty and changes?

All that provide added value or make folks life easier. An example which momentum we should try to continue to take advantage of is for sure Remote Work and Collaborative tools and processes that were heavily adopted in the pandemic. Imagine the benefits of being able to adopt and export on an industrial scale to sectors such as Justice, Health and Education all the goodies of working physically remotely but with a keen eye on productivity, as I believe happen in the better part of cases.

What is the scope of using AI and machine learning in Marketing Mix Modelling?

If I had the choose one word. Efficiency.

I’m sure there will be a time when with a click or tap of a button a whole marketing mix strategy and respective tactics can be presented to us.

For the time being, AI and ML are already realities assisting in setting up attribution models, optimizing campaigns creative assets or budgets, experimenting and A/B testing, segmentation and content personalization, forecasting results, data analysis and even a “Retail Mecca”, Dynamic Pricing.

How could a marketer start utilising the Metaverse?

Anyone that saw Ready Player One can agree that the potential is huge. However, personally, i don’t see it as an immediate “thing” for mainstream marketing.

With the advancement of AR & VR, how do you see these being utilised in Digital Storytelling?

The potential is awesome. I mean, just imagine what it can mean for an Educational system. For instance, in developing countries where greater distances and resources scarcity are such an issue, having a classroom experience digitalized via AR or VR, could do wonders for social elevators.

Of course, many other activities could be positively impacted (Cinema, Theater, Gaming, Advertising, Journalism, Healthcare, etc) but it is in Education where I do see it achieving miracles.

What are the top priorities for a MarTech Stack Optimisation Strategy to achieve?

Improve marketing efficiency; Drive pipeline growth or acceleration; Increase marketing ROI; Improve personalised customer experience

What are your views on having a single stack? (e.g. Google or Adobe vs a mix of best stacks for each function)

Actually, I don’t know any company, organization that can run on a single stack. We all say we’re agnostic when it comes to tech, but we actually have our own preferences and like to stick using the tools that we know. A Mix stack is a necessity, I’m afraid.

But it’s better that way, I say.

How do you balance experimenting with new technologies vs investing in current technologies that you already utilise?

It’s not always possible, but we try to keep an open line in our budget just for testing new tech that might be an improvement of some sort.

Which MarTech solution/platform will you invest in if you’re an angel investor?

The one with better value for money!😊

Seriously, one or more that could have a good ROI of course, but preferably, a solution or platform that could help improving people’s life. Something around healthcare, education or justice, would catch my attention faster.

What’s the best approach/tools to understand customer pain points? Especially when the survey response rate is low.

I’ve been a growing advocate of UserTesting and UserZoom. My advice, check it out.

What are the best social listening tools and strategies? Why?

I’m not sure if it’s the best out there, but I like to use TalkWalker.

I do not want to use the word “strategy” in this case, but rather objectives: Monitor Brand Mentions, Monitor Competitors, Check Trends and Audiences, if possible, in multiple channels at once.

How do you keep abreast of all the latest MarTech out there?

There are a few newsletters and websites that I try to follow regularly. Chief Martec, Emarketer, The Drum, TechCrunch, among others.

How do you foresee the role of gamification across industries?

Probably incremental.

Incremental, mostly because I do see the potential for gaming principles in real-world scenarios, but always in addition to an existing reality. Again, Education could see major improvements if we are able to bring a fun approach to our classrooms. Something that we see already happening, but without being part of bigger view, strategy or programme.

We in marketing are perhaps more aware of its potential, making it part of our users in-app experience for instance. Example of this is the increasing usage of gamification in Banking, Insurance, Retail and even Healthcare, where the fun factor does help us to retain and increase our customer interaction metrics.

What are the roadblocks in implementing gamification?

In the customer point of view, points such as a poor user experience or game design could hurt the project. Also, if the user/customer feels the game itself does not bring any value to the relationship, it will be soon forgotten and left aside. The gamification approach should try to enrich a process for which the customer could normally be not that attracted too. If it fails to accomplish that, it’s just another superficial and elaborated thing to do.

For companies, besides the natural resistance that might come up internally, in using such differentiated tactics; budget or tech issues; poor or no integration with the marketing strategy can result in an investment with no possible return. Gamification should be part of the broader vision in reaching and maintaining recurrent contact with the customer.

What’s the best advice someone has ever given you?

“Make up your own mind.”

A big thank you to Helio Henriques, Digital Director, ALDI Portugal, for sharing his insights on Future Trends, Generative AI, Gamification & MarTech Solutions.

If you want to connect with Helio after reading his MarTech Thoughts, please reach out to him via his LinkedIn Profile!

See more MarTech Thoughts interview pieces here!

Last updated: Oct 2023

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