The Scientific Approach to Relationship Marketing

Visitors to a site present marketers with a dilemma. Does it pay to pour resources into sending all of them ads, knowing that over 90% will not turn into customers, or do marketers risk losing those who would buy if they did get targeted? In the absence of a crystal ball, marketers can now apply AI solutions to identify which visitors are worth pursuing.

Marketers had already been using AI that identifies customer behavior to set up targeted communication for retention with the help of software from companies like Optimove. The Optimove Customer Marketing Cloud consolidates, mines, and models customer data to fit customers into micro-segments that accurately predicts their future behavior and value to a business.

That kind of customer profiling enables marketers to coordinate hyper-personalized communications at scale. However, it has been limited to customers who have already established their own history and pattern of behavior. In other words, it wasn’t possible to predict the likelihood of purchase for a new visitor — until now . . . 

On October 31, Optimove released version 6.0 of its software, which includes Relationship Marketing to Visitors. It applies the same scientific approach it applies to retention marketing to acquisition marketing. As a result of linking up these two components of the customer lifecycle, brands gain the ability to identify the visitors likely to turn into customers and address them effectively.

Pini Yakuel, Optimove’s founder and CEO spoke to me about his company’s “science first” approach to relationship marketing. It is “focused on customer data, machine, learning” to find “patterns in customer data” that can be leveraged to direct conversations with customers. That entails not just collecting the requisite data but cleaning it to extract the information that determines which content would be the best fit for that customer.

So where do they get that data? Yakuel said most is “first-party data” that gather in their own cloud. They then apply “machine learning” which leads to “interesting insights from the raw data.” On that basis, they can build predictive models to determine marketing strategy.

That was what the platform had been offering, what’s new in 6.0 is the focus ability to apply relationship marketing to visitors. Yakuel explained that “from the first moment someone visits a site” that person becomes “connected” to the “same dataset” built on existing customers.

Pulling that data together allows them to break through the silos that interfere with extracting the full value from data collection. “So the mindset changes,” he said, in being able to relate to the visitor in a way that is informed by the customer profile the person matches.  

The challenge was coming up with a way to identify visitors to sites who are not yet registered customers. They use cookies and then can identify when a visitor returns to the site. Storing “all the data of visitors” picks up on behavioral “patterns and create a single visitor view” that is then carried over when the visitor becomes a customer into the “customer view.”

Whereas beforehand, the data on the visitors was separate from the data on registered customers, now the two bodies of data come together, enhancing the understanding on both sides. Yakuel said that the advantage at the visitor stage is that the matchup with “lookalike” customer profiles gives insight into the likelihood of that person buying and what s/he would likely respond to in terms of offers and communication.

This taking “CRM one step back up the funnel to the point that” even for anonymous visitors, you have the ability to “surface relevant message to start building this relationship and improve conversion.” That’s the result of leveraging the “data from the other side about similar people coming from the same channel who display the same behaviors.”

There are also benefits on the retention side from maintaining the data on the customer that came in at the visitor stage. As you can begin learning about the customer from that first visit, your “relationship marketing” campaigns can be based on more information “because the data is connected.”

He anticipates that in “in the future all marketing will become relationship marketing,” and silos will be eliminated. He sees that happening now as marketing is “the fastest evolving,” field.  A combination of “scientific skills,” varied talents, and diverse people who are contributing to a “paradigm shift” in marketing. “We feel that we’re part of that change,” Yakuel said.

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