By Vincent Ariëns – Seats2meet
Marketing Automation, sounds like another fancy way for people to avoid doing hard work and using technology to tempt customers into purchasing a product. But is that actually what it’s about? At Seats2meet.com we believe in the power of new technologies, but our end game is something totally different. We aim to create an ecosystem which facilitates people, time and again, to become a better version of themselves, for themselves. Our vision is clearly explained in the book Society 3.0. It is in this frame of mind that I will share with you the way S2M uses Event Driven Communication (Marketing Automation), how we utilize Artificial Intelligence to so do and how you, yourself, can easily implement it in your organization.
Previous posts have illustrated the importance of putting your customer and their interests at the heart of your strategy, and that this should be the starting point for any business. I would like to take this a step further; the customer is not the beginning or the end or your strategy, but rather an integral part of your organization. They are not ‘consumers’, but ‘prosumers’. They are people that actively participate in- and contribute to your organization. We want to serve these people to the best of our abilities and guide them through our website as easily as possible. This is exactly where Event Driven Communication plays an important role!
Before we proceed, let’s take a step back. At S2M we want to help transform our users to become a better version of themselves, for themselves. This is in line with Pine & Gilmore’s ‘Theory of Progression of Economic Value’ (Experience Economy. Updated version, 2011). In order to achieve this we have to make sure that our customer journey contains an added value, one that people are unable to get anywhere else. In this way they can forge a bond with your organization and/or brand. At S2M we chose to work with the concept of serendipity, you can find more about serendipity in this NY Times article. Every day we try to connect people to other relevant professionals, people they don’t know yet but are relevant to them. The customer journey is a crucial element in guiding our users through this process, and Event Driven Communication is a key factor.
We have tried to map this as coherently as possible, the image below is a schematic guideline of how we do this.
As you can see the most important thing is offering unexpected and relevant matches by means of, as we refer to it, the ‘Serendipity Machine’. In essence we offer automated communication, adapted to every individual’s needs. This consequently leads to a transformation of our users where they become a better version of themselves, for themselves.
Working with AI (Artificial Intelligence)
This is where the previously mentioned technology plays a role. This marks the limit of our capabilities and to proceed we need the algorithmic powers of a computer to automate the communication. It starts off with the collection of user data. For example: every time someone checks in we ask the person what he or she is working on. We also use people’s online behavior (e.g. their attendance at an event) as input for a so-called ‘Graph Database’. This graph represents the network of people at S2M and the combination of their knowledge and activities. This graph is self-learning and adjusts dynamically. It could be the case that the connection between ‘Marketing’ and ‘Big Data’ is strong in the beginning of January, but that this gets overtaken by the connection ‘Marketing Automation’ and ‘Big Data’ later that month. This simply implies that the content moves and adapts over time based on the relevant content of the S2M network. By using all these connections in smart and innovative ways we are able to provide content that is specific and relevant to our users.
Event Driven Communication
We see that the future of online communication and marketing is becoming more and more context-driven. With the increasing use of Big Data (the Graph Database described above is an example of this) it is possible to provide automated profiles that communicate in a personal way to the individual. However, before you get to this point you will have to go through the basic procedures first. How would you go about this?
The average communications class starts off with telling students that 70% of human communication is non-verbal. The past couple of years have taught me that this is no different on the web, but it is important to strongly emphasize event driven communication. Event driven communication is a form of communication that is triggered by a user’s action, whether verbal or non-verbal. However, if a person receives bad news you can approximate their responses based on their facial expression. How can you translate this type of non-verbal communication to the web? This is very difficult to do since you cannot ‘read’ emotions on a website (not yet, at least). It is therefore important that you have this non-verbal event driven communication up and running.
It might sound difficult, but it is actually rather easy. Just think of all the instances in which your phone or website provides feedback to the user. When I correctly fill in my information online a green check mark appears. Great, this means I did something right. If not, then a red X appears. This is also the moment where you can include a link with more information for your customer to read through. If you use these insights in all your customer journeys you will probably see some (small) improvements immediately!
In order to achieve this we, inspired by Martin van Kranenburg (sinds1998.nl), started ‘Conversion Friday’. Every Friday we spend some time doing these quick wins, which, all together, account for 70% of the communication with our users!
Verbal vs. Non-verbal
Apart from the non-verbal communication discussed above, you also have verbal event driven communication. This can be very simple things such as a verification email after booking a hotel room. You can change the settings of such automated programs, for example by changing the time intervals. Perhaps a couple of days after you leave, the hotel will send you an email asking for feedback. You can use AI to make a person’s stay more relevant, for example by letting them know which other people are staying at the hotel that might be relevant for them to meet, or which places and restaurants in the neighborhood are definitely worth checking out.
You can imagine that such an event driven communication track can lead to an astonishing number of ‘if-this-then-that’ opportunities for your customers. Start at the beginning and make it clear to your customers when and where they can expect non(verbal) communication, whether it is at an event, in your app or on your website. When you have done all this you can start experimenting with AI (event driven communication) so you can really create personalized communication for each of your users. That’s pretty cool right?!
This article is directly translated from Marketing Facts: Verbeter je Customer Journey met Event-Driven Communicatie