Iterating Marketing or Irritating Marketing?

Is the marketer of tomorrow – or even today – lazy?  Offerings from B2C marketing startups are urging marketing departments to let software do the heavy lifting.

Last month, we covered Boomtrain–a marketing services firm that deploys machine learning to predict effective content and optimally deliver it to customers and prospects–moving beyond customer segmentation and toward, the company hopes, individualization.

Boomtrain has a sales and product partnership with Iterable, an B2C marketing automation startup that purports to optimize–via SaaS–what Boomtrain (and other marketers) do – through A/B testing with enhanced data analytics and a channel-agnostic cloud-based platform.  More specifically, Iterable boasts that it can “send the right message to the right device at the right time.”

First, as Iterable’s vice president of marketing, David Rangel, explained to me in an interview, “[Iterable gives] guidance on what type, timing, [and] frequency of messages are best for different consumer segments[.]” Then, armed with that information, a marketer using Iterable can set message triggers – enabling automatic messaging based on particular events or other “signals.”  From there, Rangel says, A/B testing on each aspect of those messages is enabled to allow Iterable customers to make adjustments accordingly.

“This is where most of the benefit comes today for any marketer.  By structuring their campaigns correctly and A/B testing different variables, they can optimize their engagement,” says Rangel.

I am, admittedly, a touch dubious as I question Rangel because of many B2C marketers’ irrational and insatiable thirst for impressions–and little else.  For many, this has resulted in inboxes packed with junk mail and smartphones constantly vibrating with nuisance push notifications.

Rangel works to put my doubts at ease.  “[I]f sending to a phone results in a higher percentage of unsubscribes (or even just [a] lower click rate), then the platform will be able to see that early in a campaign and automatically switch to other channels, different timing, et cetera,” he tells me.  “That is why having the flexible platform is key.”

To be certain, Iterable seems especially pleased with the flexibility and scalability of its platform.  Both the company’s marketing materials and Rangel himself boost the platform’s UX and “ease of use;” Rangel reports that Iterable customers are using the platform to deliver messages to hundreds of millions of consumers without suffering performance degradation.

“We increasingly see marketers demanding tools that let them…grow, engage and retain their audiences…easily while scaling to tens or hundreds of millions of users,” Rangel says.  “[T]hat is why we are differentiated and seeing great traction.”

Of course, Rangel recognizes Iterable’s limitations – but the company is working to make up for them. “Today we aren’t involved in actually creating [or] analyzing content for customers,” concedes Rangel.  “This is where something like our Boomtrain partnership comes in.”

Indeed, both product platforms are integrated so customers of both companies can use these optimization and analytics tools to create, assess, distribute content automatically every step of the way.  From there, they can analyze the post-mortem of a particular campaign and, with guidance from both platforms, take appropriate prescriptive action.

The Boomtrain-Iterable partnership makes a great deal of sense for both companies because each does what the other doesn’t – but, if Rangel is right, their target customers presumably want and need both companies’ services.  Together, the dual integration paints a picture of tomorrow’s marketing department: where entire campaigns – from copywriting and message delivery to traffic analytics and conversion, and from concept to customer segmentation – can be automated with a few keystrokes or taps on a mobile device.

Don Draper has left the building.  In his place?  A guy pressing a button.

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