Keith Huntoon - DMCNY Member Profile

Keith Huntoon - DMCNY Member Profile


2013, November
Q: You’ve been an active member, and former board member of DMCNY.  What are the benefits of supporting our club? 

A: The benefits are numerous, but here are three. 

1.    Education:  The marketing world’s pace of change is accelerating daily, and we need to keep up with the new technologies and techniques.  DMCNY programming is fresh and relevant and helps bring clarity to an increasingly murky marketing universe.

2.    Networking:  The DMCNY draws experts from vendors as well as consumer and B-to-B marketers to events.  By attending DMCNY events, I’m able to maintain relationships and forge new ones consistently. 

3.    Payback:  My career would be very different if it weren’t for the boundless generosity of others.  Aside from my parents, Rosemarie Montroy, Pam Haas, Lisa Moore, Phil Wiland and countless others have provided insight, advice and introductions that continue to help me.  By supporting the DMCNY, I can help others get started in direct marketing and take the next step in their careers.

Q: Tell us the story of your career.

A: Direct marketing runs in my blood.  My mother was a list broker, and my father managed three service bureaus.  But I had no interest in following my parents into direct marketing.  As a teenager, the idea of sitting at a desk debating mail plans, response rates and merge results was as appealing as cold oatmeal.

Upon graduation from the University of Vermont, I moved to Singapore to work for a tech start-up.  That position took me to Bangkok, where I lived for another two years.  It was abroad where I caught the entrepreneurial bug.  I realized I wanted to be in smaller organizations where my input would impact the health and direction of a company.

Upon returning to the states, I continued to work with small tech providers.  In 2001, I became VP of business development and marketing Blue Hill Data Services, a data center outsourcing provider for direct marketers.   I quickly found myself knee deep in direct marketing, and loving it.

In 2005, my colleague Scott Markowitz and I left Blue Hill Data to form LiftEngine.   We’ve grown to over 30 people servicing multi-channel retailers, publishers and non-profits. 

Q: What’s going on at LiftEngine these days? 

Eight years ago, LiftEngine was a traditional service bureau performing merge, data hygiene, and list rental fulfillment.  While we still provide those services, we now offer a number of cross-channel solutions, including modeling and analytics, and digital targeting. 

We’re most excited about our real-time decisioning (RTD) platform and its ability to score inbound leads for conversion and upsell/cross sell opportunities.  Historically, marketers segmented outbound offers but treated inbound leads and customers generically.  RTD identifies inbound customers, appends massive amounts of data, and scores each person based upon a client’s offers.  RTD is a solution to lift customer engagement, conversion and sales.

Q: What do you see as some of the challenges and new directions where direct marketing is headed? 

There are a number of significant challenges to marketers, but I feel they all boil down to change: 

1.   Channel fragmentation:  Marketers must consider both traditional channels and new ones, like SEM, SEO, onserts/Zads, email, display, lead gen, retargeting, social, mobile, and YouTube.  Each channel is unique, and it’s difficult to determine where to allocate time, personnel and budget.

 2.   Focus:  There are far too many new channels, companies and technologies for anyone to keep up.  Data warehouses, case tools and ERP were all of the rage in the 90s.  Then came ASPs, AIPs, and the Dotcom era.  Two years ago, it was daily deals.  Now it’s all about the Cloud, Big Data, and apps with micro payments. Each era brought tremendous hype, but most ideas flamed out.  

Clients aren’t guinea pigs. We should keep an eye on new ideas, but remain focused on what makes our clients successful.   

3.    Digital/cross channel expertise:  It is impossible to be an expert in everything.  Marketers must sift through the hype in each channel and then cobble together a solution that can be coordinated, efficient and effective.  Not an easy task. 


Ruth Stevens
Ruth Stevens's picture

Postings editor Ruth P. Stevens interviewed Keith Huntoon.  Keith co-founded LiftEngine, a company in Pearl River NY that provides inbound and outbound targeting solutions to maximize customer engagement and marketing ROI.  Reach Keith at