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“Starting With the Customer Means Understanding What They Like and Tailoring the Next Step Around That”

What happens when you put three Relationship Marketing experts in one room and grill them about how their brands deal with economic uncertainty, personalization, AI, and starting marketing from the customer? You get deep insight into how successful brands do it. Here it is, in their own words

“If you ask us, we have no doubt where 2022, and the entire foreseeable future of marketing, is headed” is how we started the blog summarizing last year’s Optimove Connect End of Year Forum. Feel free to laugh out loud.  

Since then, the marketing landscape has flipped on its head yet again. COVID isn’t as rampant as last year, but new challenges like energy costs and inflation are taking a real toll on consumers’ fiscal confidence and, as a result, their spending budget.  

With new challenges in mind, we gathered three sophisticated CRM marketing leaders from different verticals in one room for our annual End of Year Forum. We asked them how they meet these challenges, the importance of AI and personalization, and what starting marketing from the customer means for them.  

The distinguished professionals who were kind enough to share their insights were: 

  • Yoed Negri – Global Director of Digital Transformation at SodaStream International, Ltd. 
  • Thomas Landheer – Head of CRM at Entain 
  • Tommy Faaborg Sass – Director of CRM at Spark Networks 

How does the economic uncertainty affect you? 

The answer varies between industries and types of products. The iGaming industry is essentially recession-proof, said Thomas Landheer from Entain. “We don’t see massive drop in activity, but we’ve noticed that people spend less,” he added.  

Maintaining activity is critical in many industries, but even more so in iGaming, considering the number of alternatives and their relative similarities. The solution? Frequency retention to maintain top-of-mind awareness. “In 2022, we focused more on keeping players active without them having to spend their own money. They go into the area of free games, which kind of mimics the gaming experience but doesn’t necessarily come at a cost for the customer,” he concluded.  

Yoed Negri from SodaStream agrees that consumers feel the squeeze but offers two contradictory results. “We see consumers either downgrading to low-priced machines or upgrading to the longer lasting, expensive ones. So, it’s not fewer consumers, just how they’re spending money is much different.” Stressing the importance of understanding the customer’s state of mind to provide them with a viable, relevant next step in their marketing journey. 

What does start with the customer mean to you? 

“Starting with the customers means focusing on retention, giving customers reasons to visit the platform, not only to find the right match and leave,” said Faaborg Sass about the dating app customer base. “There are just too many alternatives out there not to do it.” 

Utilizing data in the right way to ensure customers get the right message at the right time using their preferred marketing channel is vital. “That’s the good thing about dating,” he added, “We have a lot of first-party data that we can utilize to optimize customer experiences.” 

The iGaming industry is famous for its ability to use player data in marketing activities. “We’ve got plenty of data on every customer regarding what they like and don’t like,” said Landheer. “We try to give them the content and the offers around the things they like before we even start thinking about upselling and cross-selling. Starting with the customer means understanding what they like and tailoring the next step around that and what they’re doing right now.” 

What happens when you have little to no data? When a customer can walk into Walmart and pick up your product, case in point – SodaStream, you’re unlikely to have meaningful data about that customer. “We’re starting with zero data, and then we try to engage with the customer and learn as much as we can,” said Negri. “What type of flavors are the right ones for them? What is the best one for their friends or parents? Then, we try to tailor the offers to that customer.” 

Mobile personalization and AI 

Geofencing is an important part of any brand’s playbook and will be more so in 2023. The iGaming case for it is straightforward, says Landheer. “We’ve got information on every customer in our database when we ask them, what is your favorite football team?” he said, “We’ve got coordinates for every stadium in Europe. If we tie the two together, we can send them a push notification every 15 minutes to prompt action.” 

A mobile App can also be a good source for collecting customer data. “Our machines are connected to our mobile app, so we know exactly what and how much they consume. And if you know the exact micro-moment when they are running out, we can step in with a timely marketing proposition.”  

Will AI help in that sense? AI can already create images, content, and even codingupon request. Are we already in the age of AI? 

“We have been using Optimove for almost two years, and it has that part called OptiBot, and my team feedback was that in six months, brands might be able to work with a smaller support team,” Said Yoed. “It won’t go full AI in the near future, but AI will have a big role in filling data gaps. It’ll be a mixture of manually prepared content while the AI will tell us who to target and the best offer for them.” 

Faaborg Sass concurs: “AI will help fill data gaps and improve segmentation.” 

Main goals for 2023? Retain, retain, retain 

“We are trying to focus heavily on retention,” Negri summed it up, “to know exactly what will keep the consumer engaged and what type of message we should send them to ensure they stay within the ecosystem.” 

What will 2023 bring? We’d be crazy to try and project. All we can do is ensure marketers have more tools than ever before to tackle whatever life throws at them. 

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Guy Leshno

Guy Leshno, a seasoned PR and Communications professional, with a successful track record in leading PR strategies and projects in emerging startups. With over a decade of experience, his expertise lies in blending creative ideation, analytics, and expert writing capabilities, driving brand awareness, and improving sales.