Meet R2i: Mike Onalfo, Director of Data & List Services

Meet R2i: Mike Onalfo, Director of Data & List Services

What Inspires You About Digital?

We live in a digital age. More importantly, a digital communication age. We can convey messages halfway across the world in a matter of seconds. Take a moment and compare that to what it took people in the 18th and 19th centuries to send a message across oceans. We can be practically anywhere in the world, and yet digital allows us to find out how our favorite sports team is doing, see what Elon Musk just put into space, or keep up on the latest Kardashian struggle—if you’re into that sort of thing. Virtually everything you can think of has some sort of digital component to it and that makes things exciting. I’ve always been into sci-fi, and I believe that the digital transformation that human culture has undergone over the past 50 years will propel us beyond our solar system in a way that once seemed only possible in the movies.

How Long Have You Worked at R2i? Who Are Some of Your Clients?

I’ve been with R2i since the agency acquired CatapultWorks in March of 2016 and at that point I had been with CatapultWorks for nine years. So, a total of 10 years—that’s basically 25% of my life. My team works with a range of clients include United rel="noopener noreferrer" Healthcare, Informatica, NetApp, and Microsoft.

Who Is Your Hero and Why?

I’ve always admired my grandfather. Over his life he’s had many careers which included being a government contractor, an owner of a dairy farm in Vermont, and a woodsmith. I looked up to him because he always enjoyed what he did and was a true family man—not only providing for those around him but encouraging us to be true to ourselves. He taught me many valuable lessons, including to do what makes me happy as long as it’s not at the expense of someone else’s happiness. The man is over 90 years old and still mows his own lawn.

Tell Us About Your Professional Philosophy—Are There Any Core Tenets You Apply to The Projects You Work On?

At R2i I work with data. Data is straight-forward. You either have it or you don’t, and what you have is either right or wrong. There’s no real grey area. One thing I’ve learned in the latter half of my life is that it’s better to have quality rather than quantity. That sentiment couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to data—you must have quality data to send the right message to the right people.

If You Could Have A Dream Client, Who Would It Be?

My dream client is not a particular company or person. It’s a situation. Working with passionate, open-minded clients who use a variety of marketing technologies, yet don’t quite understand all of the capabilities and have no trust in their data is a dream come true. To me, this is an opportunity. It allows me to dig in to client goals, data landscape, technology stack, and show them how to leverage the full potential of what they have in front of them to increase business performance.

What Is A Recent Project That You Really Enjoyed Working On?

Without naming a particular client, I would say that any Data Hygiene Audit project is always exciting for me.  My team and I get to dig into mounds of data and help clients determine what’s good and what needs improvement. Not only working on the audit, but the actual presentation is where I feel that I’m at my best. I get to review our findings directly with the client and it’s always an eye-opening experience for them. We get to report things like: 60% of the data has had literally no interaction with marketing activities, or that 80% of the accounts in the CRM have 0 contacts associated to them. Another favorite of mine is to show them that profanity is sometimes scattered throughout their database. Throwing a cuss word or two in a presentation for proof that they have a data problem always gets a laugh.

What Are You Passionate About Outside of the Office?

My family. I enjoy time with my children and watching them grow. I think about how different their world is going to be with the advancement of technology as a whole.

What rel="noopener noreferrer" Is A Major Digital Marketing Trend That Companies Should Be Paying Attention To?

Intent data. The ability to pinpoint a company, device, or person’s internet search trends and contextually tie that information to the products and services that your company is selling can be an extremely powerful weapon. This is already widely happening in the B2C space and in my opinion will only continue to grow. Just try searching for shoes online at home and I guarantee that within the next two to three searches, you’ll have ads for shoes all over. For B2B marketers, intent data can be a little more cumbersome. Not only do you have to identify the company, but also the people involved with initiating the intent data being captured. It’s tricky, but with the right data and know-how you have a great opportunity on your hands.

What Piece of Advice Would You Give To Your Childhood Self?

Invest early in Microsoft, Apple, and Google!
Tim Cooke

About the author: R2integrated

R2i is a full-service digital agency that creates digital solutions that connect and accelerate customer experiences to drive impact for mid-market brands. We have a relentless focus on combining data, insights, and technology with creative design to drive engaging and high-impact digital experiences. 

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