From Blast Campaigns to Emotionally Intelligent Conversations
A panel discussion with Claus Hansen from GVC Group, Eitan Reisel from Google, Vadala Giuseppe from Sisal, Laszlo Pados from Funstage and Varda Tirosh from Optimove
– [Varda] All right. So, hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us. It’s a pleasure to see you all here. I’m Varda Tirosh, Chief Customer Officer here at Optimove. And before we’ll introduce our panelists, I’m going to do like a short introduction and then we’ll go into that. So basically like we’ve gathered this impressive group of panelists today to gain some insights into the transition from blast campaigns into smaller, more targeted and segmented campaigns. When initially considering this transformation, many marketers are really concerned that doing so will basically harm their revenue and reduce their revenues. Okay? And they’re concerned because eventually they’re going to reduce the frequency of communicating with their customers and targeting smaller and smaller groups. Now this is something that I often hear from new customers that are starting to use Optimove and this is a real concern that they have. But this is not necessarily true. Okay?
Eventually, this kind of change doesn’t happen overnight. Okay? It’s a gradual change. People start from building more and more segmented groups and eventually they’re using the blast campaigns as some kind of a bucket campaigns that will target the rest of the customers that are not a part of the segmented campaigns. So, again, this is something that happened gradually. But in general, once a company reaches a specific…a certain tipping point of having enough segmented campaigns running, the overall revenue that coming in general from those campaigns is increasing significantly, because we all understand that eventually emotionally intelligent communication will increase and improve the revenues that eventually we’re going to receive from those kind of campaigns and will improve loyalty and spend. And as you cater smaller and smaller groups of segments, the average uplift that you can expect to gain from those overall campaigns will eventually gross. Now, in today’s panel, we’re going to focus of the evolution in customer marketing from blast campaigns into targeted campaigns. We’re going to talk about the challenges and the benefits that’s going to be driving from that and we’re going to discuss a little bit where the future is going. So before we’re going to jump into the questions, I’m going to let our panelists introduce themselves. So let’s start with you, Lazlo.
– [Laszlo] So, hello, everyone. My name is Laszlo and I’ve been working for Funstage for the last two and a half years, also together with Optimove and I’m leading the CRM team in our company with including six people.
– [Giuseppe] Hi, everyone. Giuseppe Vadalà from Sisal, the Italian company of gaming and payment services. CRM manager. I’ve been working at Sisal six years. Thank you for this opportunity. I’m really glad to be here.
– [Claus] Hello, everyone. My name is Claus and I come from GVC where I head up the CRM for the bwin sportsbook brand, which got acquired by the group one year and half back, and one of the key topics that we’ve been going through, is quite exciting.
– [Eitan] Eitan. Today is important day for me because up until today, I’m the sector lead of gaming for Google, but actually, before coming here I gave my laptop back so I’m no longer at Google, and I’m the Chief Revenue Officer of Sweet Inn. So at the end, I’ll be a kind of Optimove but I want everybody staying at Sweet Inn apartments all around Europe. That’s…I came here to sell.
– Cool. All right. Thank you, everybody. And let’s dive into our first question. And let’s start with you, Laszlo. From your experience working in the CRM space, can you please share and tell us a little bit about the evolution of your marketing strategy from spray and pray into segmented campaigns? And while you’re talking about this, it would be great if you can refer to the challenges that you faced while doing this and what are the results or benefits that you’ve seen?
– Yes. So, basically, when two and a half years ago I joined the company, we were actually in the middle of the change. The team lead back then hired me and said, “We are actually implementing our Optimove and we would like to take our marketing and CRM strategy to the next level.” I was very excited to join the team, and, you know, trying to get into this, how we can go from one campaign per month to all the customers to a very, very granular campaigning per customer based on his feelings, based on his behavior, based on his events what he did on the platform of ours. And yeah, of course, it had a lot of challenges, obviously, at the beginning, how we can implement it on our backend, how we can make sure that the templating is correct, how we can integrate all this with our systems and… But in the end, we made it happen and I think we can see the benefits of it by measuring every single campaign now. Back then we had no availability of seeing our costs, of seeing our customer reactions to single campaigns. So we basically, as you just say in the question, sent out the email and pray that somebody reacts. Nowadays we have a very granular targeting running more than 260 target groups per day on our platforms and it evolved to a level where we can actually target them even better. And I’m very happy that we reached this, and it’s also thanks to Optimove.
– Before we move on, I’d like to ask you. What actually drove this change? Why the company decided that this is time to do this change?
– The reason behind was resources, obviously. So two and a half years ago we were doing everything manually, nothing was automated. So when I joined, I sat down on my first week and I started to create emails by myself, copy-pasting some texts, putting in some values and sending it out to 100,000 customers. I also felt it’s not efficient. But I’ve been doing this for two weeks just to make sure that one campaign goes out and then pray that it has some effect because otherwise my whole work that I’ve been doing for the last two weeks is down the drain. Nowadays most of our things are automated and we are just more efficient with the resources, obviously, and we can do everything much faster.
– Well, in our case, when I joined Sisal, the CRM approach was basically just spray and pray. It was in 2011. So I had the chance to go through the all evolution from that time to the current days where we are going through a change of mentality and culture. So apart from the fact that we invested a lot in people and technology, we are going through this change. So just to give you an example, a few years ago we used to send everything to everybody. Then because the main effort of the company was focusing on acquisition and product evolution because the market was very focused on our product-centric approach. Now we’re trying to get to a customer-centric approach and this is why we restructured the business unit, especially the CRM team, and we changed completely the segmentation model. We passed through a change of mentality as well because we used to work with static and vertical segmentation model, now it’s customer-centric and dynamic segmentation model. So it’s much more easier to make sure that our campaigns can be targeted and very efficient.
– What are the benefits that you saw as a result?
– Well, first of all, just to be very pragmatic, I agree with what I’ve just heard in terms of what we do on a daily basis. The work is much more easier, so just the fact of making sure that we can set up a campaign very easily, very quickly, we can see the results, we can monitor everything in a very easy way. That’s really cool. But apart from these, obviously, the most important thing is to get results, and the results are great. So far, KPIs all have been improving. So I think we’re just at the beginning to be honest because we need to get even more familiar with this platform, and also we need to keep changing the mentality because we’re just at the beginning of this new phase.
– Talking about the mentality, so, obviously, from what you’ve said, a lot of the change required technological changes, okay, and adopting new platforms and tools that will allow you to automate the processes. But what about like the internal, let’s say, cultural changes that the company made, had to go through in order to change the approach?
– Yeah. First of all, in our case, it was a matter of understanding exactly the ownership of activities and apart from that it was really, really tough at the beginning to understand that the paradigm was different. So we had to focus on the customer because behind every user there is a person, so we had to understand these and making sure that we could be everyone on the same page. It wasn’t easy at the beginning but the good thing is that at Sisal we have, I think, an excellent team, excellent professional and very good people. So even if at the beginning it wasn’t easy for everybody to understand the benefits we could get, everyone made a big effort and we helped each other. So now, as I said, we’re getting there, and I think, yeah, just to answer your question, essentially the main issue we had to face was in terms of looking at things in a different way. We’re still doing that but we’re improving day by day, even in, you know, just talking about things and seeing we should monitor results and stuff like that. So I’m pretty satisfied that it didn’t took so long like I was expecting and…I mean, the good thing is that we started this process years ago but with different processes, with different tools. So the mentality it wasn’t so difficult to be changed lately, but it’s never easy to change when there is a transformation.
– Yeah. I mean, from our end, it’s pretty much the same in terms of the evolution as well. And when I joined BUN one year back, the biggest obstacle was basically the mindset because the company historically had been really much promotional-led and I wanted to change that into more data-led and being a bit more clever in terms of how you segment campaigns. And that was the kind of biggest obstacle in the beginning, how you change that mindset into becoming like this spray and pray approach and just hitting everyone with the same measures and so on, going that to deep dive into the data and understand how to segment. And I think that was the first one and biggest obstacle, but it took some time in terms of understanding where to look for the right data, who to segment and so on, and pairing that with the right content, obviously. And that was the biggest thing. I think the next big obstacle is, obviously, scalability, how you scale constantly to this segmentation because in my world, I mean, the utopia is obviously where you have a segment per costumer, so you have a tailored user journey per customer. And until we reach that point, we’re not satisfied. So I think to answer both of your questions in one go. That’s it.
– Okay. Eitan, I have a question for you. So most people think of Google as a marketing channel for acquisition. Okay? Now you as a gaming sector lead at Google, not anymore, but up until now, can you tell us a little bit about how Google supports like targeted customer retention campaigns? And if you can tell us how your customers that you used to work with, how basically did they use those tools and capabilities in order to grow their business?
– So I think, because Google is built as an ads business around intent and search, that goes already to be very, very segmented, because if you think of the evolution, what marketing is happening today, PLTV models became the number one buzzword, but at the end of the day we’re saying, “Let’s target users and not spend money or advertise.” So I think the focus of the company, and you look at the evolution of products, if you look on apps specifically, it’s all around segmented, segmented, segmented targeting, but there is a big change because I think up until two years ago the segmentation was a lot on the, and I think this is also where Optimove very much connects with it, was a lot on the advertiser to define what the segmentation is and I think it’s much more behavioral today. So what would… You know, there’s always a question, where does the BI department have to sit if it’s more, you know, the product orientation or it’s more the marketing orientation? There isn’t a right or wrong answer but it is the same signals to say what’s important and I think that’s the evolution. Google, Facebook, Amazon, they’re all going that way. I was looking at the signals that are important to predict the behavior and based on that target. I would say that it always is important to find the balance, because burst campaigns, it really depends on the K-factor and how much and what the product is and if it’s a rich product or you want to first get enough audience to learn about it. I think sometimes companies miss on that point because to start segmenting before you have user base is very, very hard, it’s to predict the segmentation. But that’s where Google and other technology companies are going to.
– Okay. Thank you. Moving on to the next question. So a lot of you mentioned emails and when we’re thinking about blast campaigns, we usually think in terms of emails. But eventually, you know, the difference between blast and targeted campaigns is relevant to a lot of other marketing channels. And I want to ask you that, beside emails, which channels do you use for targeted campaigns and how do you combine those other channels with email to get the maximum impact?
– Yeah. I think it’s really important in my industry, in regards to Sportsbook, not only to focus on the email because, I mean, we know that the inbox is a really competitive environment in regards to standing out. And I think it’s much more important to figure out the right blend in terms of communication channels. By understanding the behavior of the customer in terms of where the customers are active and then deliver the message accordingly. So within sports betting in general, which is primarily through mobile these days, it’s really important to consider that channel as a primary communication channel and that doesn’t only include email but it also include SMS, push notifications and…I mean, besides that, we do have web push and we use social media as well, direct mail, old school, as well. But I think it’s more understanding the right blend of communication to the customers at the right time as well and not just hanging everything up on the email because, I mean, we know how our personal inbox looks like, it’s really difficult to stand out. Then you can create a really good subject line, but then, I mean, that’s just one communication. So yeah. I think…
– Any specific channels that you’re not using today and you would love to start using and combining into this blend?
– Well, I think there’s still unexplored channels within social media and that we haven’t really tapped into just yet from a CRM point of view, that is, in regards to Twitter and Instagram as well. And I think we’re still far from understanding the right blend through different channels and mixing in social media in order to have the right exposure towards the customer. So yeah. I think the social media attachment is still in kind of unreal territory for us.
– With some of the limitations that this industry has in Facebook and Google in general.
– Well, at Sisal, we use I think all possible channels but the issue is that at the moment not all of them are centralized in saying campaign management, but it’s in the plan. So it’s a step-by-step process. I think in the near future, all channels will be in the same campaign, so we will be able to orchestrate better the strategy. So I think at the moment for our experience, the best thing to do is try to understand exactly the best channels for the particular customer. So yesterday, I attended one workshop here. It was very interesting because the topic was focused on these interest we have at Sisal. I have to say that, fortunately, in the last couple of years especially all KPIs in terms of communication improved, especially in the last eight months because we are focusing on the best channels to be used for the particular type of customers and segments. So apart from the traditional ones, emails and SMS, we’re working on a real-time instant pop-up messaging, we work with push notifications and so on. And we want to go through a very multi-channel and omnichannel experience for our customers. So ideally, with centralized orchestration, we will be able to do a better job in the near future.
– Okay. Thanks.
– As previously mentioned, we also want to go a bit more mobile. I think it was a bit of a problem in the gaming industry in the last three, four years. We’re a bit lagging behind in moving to mobile. Obviously, everybody has a nice-looking mobile website or an app here and there but the communication there is a bit lacking. We are trying to do that now at the moment. Besides, obviously, email we have web pushes at the moment, pushes in the app, inbox messaging. And what we’re trying to do in the future is hopefully implement a bit of outbound calling, especially for our VIP customers it could be a huge benefit.
– Any unexplored channels?
– We’re planning also to look into retargeting. Obviously, there are some legal regulations that we might face there, so it’s not the easiest one to look at, but this is currently unexplored very much by us.
– Okay. Thanks. Moving on to our third questions. Thinking about the fact that personalized marketing is becoming more and more sophisticated and commonplace, so what are some of the concerns that you have for the future? Laszlo?
– Well, for me it’s the cyclicality of the whole industry and where such events could be a very fun way to interact with other practitioners or learn some best practices. Technically, a campaign that we come up with today can be an industry standard a month later. So for me that’s one of the biggest concerns, to stay up-to-date, to create new ideas day-by-day because you might have a good idea today but other competitors can take it tomorrow and you’re not alone then anymore. So there’s another long way to celebrate your success and I think that’s my biggest concern, basically.
– Yeah, at Sisal we have a similar approach. We keep looking and we have an approach about active seek of the next best thing that can be implemented and we try always to anticipate trends and our competitors. So, obviously, in terms of concerns, customer privacy is fundamental as well as all the other potential issues we can create with all these technologies. So we have to be very careful when we talk to our customers because as I said earlier on, every user is a person so this is absolutely fundamental and we are to bear in mind it always.
– Yeah, this is something I want to address to you, Eitan. Can too much personalization eventually freak out customers and basically induce backlash?
– Yeah. At first, I think to your previous question as well. It’s funny because you all mentioned the channels but very little on paid media, and I think that’s also a big transition that’s happening, because if I acquired somebody and I paid money, how do I justify paying again, although platforms, you know, do cost money and people, etc.? So I think personalization does have an extent, but an extent as people will get bound by email marketing, ads, you know, etc. So they better off be relevant, but not only relevant to the character, right? So if I’m at a certain stage in life, that means that I want to see an ad but to the time it’s such, you know, I’m moving now into the travel industry, it’s very important like to understand what the destination I was in, what’s the next destination, help me dream about it, etc., etc. So I think it can be to an extent if it’s not managed and there are many cases where brands are getting like enough. Like, I don’t want to see this anymore because you’re coming with the same message day after day, day after day. Like if you look at the gaming industry, that’s one of the largest… It doesn’t matter gambling or casual game. So that’s one of the largest issues because the offers are not… You know, you can’t create billions of offers because at the end of the day if you create billion offers you have billion business models to justify them. So the offer is pretty much extent, so if you don’t go…if it’s Sportsbook or if you don’t go very specific to an event and be very, very specific, then we’re seeing the same stuff all the time, doesn’t matter what the channel is. So I think it is, but it really has to do with how the brand is managing it.
– But in general, I mean, as the technology evolves and as we get more and more data, we get very personalized with customers in our communication. Do you think that at some point customers are going to say like, “Enough, I don’t want you to use my personal information or…” And specifically Google, you know, there’s a lot of privacy issues and stuff. Will there be a point that consumers will just say enough is enough?
– Probably they’re already saying it. Yes. I think that… And if you look at where Google is evolving and all the penalties that are discussed, etc., and Facebook are now each time you to take a different company and the spotlight is there. A lot of it has to do at the end of the day I think to managing your privacy. I think we’re going to see more and more trends. I know I’m very close to the gambling industry as well, that happens on the regulator front all the time. I travel. You know, if you look at the world of Airbnb, etc. I think more and more companies will have to be very, very transparent with what they allow users, and I think the most challenging part is this because there are two companies that dominate at least the operation systems. So who owns what? So that’s I think where the main trend will be. I don’t think because ads business is a very big business and there are many companies and many consumers are enjoying it and it’s allowing free internet, but at the end of day, yes, more control on what I want people to know about me, I think that’s a very, very significant way of where the industry is going.
– Yep. Definitely. Claus, I want to ask you something. Well, today, you know, the advanced personalization technique is basically a big competitive advantage for companies that are doing it well, but more and more companies are doing it better and better. Will there be any point anytime soon that doing so it’s not going to be any more a source of competitive advantage? Do you think we can get to that point?
– It’s a good question. I think from a communication point of view, I think the personalization in terms of segmentation is easy to copy from the outbound communication. I think probably where the more competitive edge lies is when customer goes to site and that personalization is followed through in terms of how elements are surfaced to the customers that’s aligned according to the data we know about the customer. So we personalize that experience and I think that’s a lot more difficult from a competitive point of view to replicate. I think the segmentation is a really easy way to kind of bring your kind of CRM up to speed in regards to the competitive aspect. I think where it becomes really interesting is where you put that thing on site and also how you put that thing from the site back into the communication. So you create this kind of seamless flow and then in terms of personalization. So you don’t look only in the kind of segmentation aspect in terms of outbound communication. So…
– Interesting point. Yeah, eventually it seems like marketers will have to invent themselves again and again as today companies that are doing very well with the personalization, most of the companies will catch up and do the same and then like we’re going to need to find new ways to do things personalized but innovative. Thanks. Okay. Moving on to our fourth question. From what we’re seeing, a lot of the companies are still doing some blast campaigns and they’re still targeting some of their database with like generic messages to everybody, like product announcements and periodic newsletters. What do you think is the right blend between the two and do you even think that this is justified to still sending out undifferentiated blast campaigns?
– I think, yeah, we are still doing it, obviously. We’re also having periodic newsletters, new game announcements on our brands as well. And why we are doing it, there are three reasons behind it. It’s an industry standard. Everybody else is doing it so why wouldn’t we? It’s also requested by our managers who are a bit more about, “Show me a campaign that I can also see.” And it’s not a good answer to say, like, “Well, look, these users get like 20 campaigns a month.” “Yes, but I don’t see it,” they say. Yeah, you don’t see it because it’s targeted and it’s only meant for that particular customer. So it’s a regular conversation we are having on a day-to-day basis in our office. So that’s the second reason to show them, “Look, we also do big campaigns, everybody’s involved, you can see it as well, you can take part if you want to.” And the third one is, with such blast campaigns, you can build a seamless experience around it. You can involve SEO, you can involve marketing, you can involve customer support. So, everybody’s on the same page and you can communicate it on a much larger scale than, let’s say, birthday campaign only for 20 customers a day. The right blend is hard to grasp, I think. What we are trying to do is more like an 80/20 or a 90/10 rule. So 90% of the customer communication on a daily basis or a monthly basis is targeted and personalized and 10% of it is something very generic for everyone involved and I think it works out quite fine.
– At Sisal, we try to avoid it, but obviously, this is sometimes something you have to do. So basically, the solution to compromise we found with the requests we get internally and the marketing campaigns we plan it, for example, in an email, we just put the announcement in the footer or in a secondary section of the message which is focused on another message which is generally a promotion. With this solution, we have been able to avoid a lot of unsubscriptions, for example, because with the announcements and emails like that we used to register a lot of unsubscriptions in the past. So, this is just an example of what we did and it was quite efficient because in parallel we have been experiencing a huge improvement in terms of open rate. So if in parallel we are able to communicate even more than one message in one campaign and this is just an example of the emails but also this can be done on other channels as well. We can get more advantages because we mainly communicate the most important message even if with a solution like this.
– Okay. Thanks.
– Yeah, I think it’s an interesting one because I agree, it’s very much an industry phenomenal and within our industry, and I think it’s primarily driven by proud product teams who want to see their new launches being pushed out, and I think it’s very much in the interest of the overall business that from a CRM point of view, you would go in and make adjustment call in terms of understanding would this be relevant to the customer or not, and potentially, as mentioned, use it as a small footer if it’s not relevant to that specific customer. Because I think it can be like a double-edged sword in that way if you don’t understand the kind of precautions in terms of blasting this out. So I think it’s very much understanding where it needs to go in terms of visibility and the communication. But it’s primarily driven, I think, from the kind of product teams and so on, and it tends to be some hard conversations once in a while, but that’s how it is.
– Okay. All right. So for our last question, I would like to ask each and every one of you to give one example of how you transformed blast campaigns that you had or a specific campaign that you had running and moving it to personalize a more targeted campaign and what was the effect that you’ve see and either to your entire customer database or to a large segment. So I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on that.
– I think one of our best example here is one of our best campaigns that we have at the moment is a regular account balance emailing which we basically did two and a half years ago just once a month sending it to all the customers, “Look, this is how much money you still have under your account and you might want to come back and play it if you have some time. Nowadays, it’s much more targeted, so thanks, obviously, again, to Optimove and some great attributes, we can easily look at your account balance and decide based on your average behavior if the money that you have in your account is enough for you for one day or having gaming fun for one day or not, and based on this data we can send you an appropriate message and say, “Look, you still have some money in your account. We know it’s enough for you to come back and play, so enjoy it.” If we know that you have still some money but it’s not enough for you to have some fun, we also create you some promotion if you want to come back today. And obviously, we also differentiate between reactivation customers who have not been on the platform for a longer time between customers who have been there just yesterday. And it’s one of the best performing campaigns nowadays.
– Cool. Thanks.
– At Sisal, with the support of Optimove, we are reviewing all the marketing plan in relation to all lifecycle stages. And one example I can share is the new marketing plan that we are about to adopt for our new customers after the registration, basically. In the past, we used to have a non-differentiated program, a static one, so it was identical to everyone, now it’s going to be a dynamic onboarding program. So according to the acquisition channel, the site navigation, both for desktop and in site rather than the actions that the clients make, we are able to personalize the message so potentially the communication can be different for every customer. So this is a step ahead for us for sure. And another example could be in relation to how we are treating now lapsed customers because we used to treat all the potential lapsed customers in the same way, now with the risk of…with churn factor and we’re trying to follow the rhythm of the customer, like yesterday we have seen one workshop. So, yeah.
– Thanks. Claus?
– Yeah, and what we’re trying to do these days is essentially create a campaign that’s on site. And previously it’s been one size fits all, so all customers would receive the same offer and so on, and we’re trying to establish a campaign where there’s a new offer every day but that offer will be tailored according to value segmentation and behavioral segments that has pushed through Optimove into our front end. So if the customer is in certain kind of areas, he or she will see a specific tailored offer according to these kind of segmentations as well, which is kind of a new big scale thing because it will be visible to everyone, but the offer will be tailored according to the behaviors and by the segmentation. So it’s quite exciting. I believe it’s going to be effective. I don’t know yet, but we’re definitely in the process of developing it.
– Okay, thanks. Eitan, can you share some very creative example that you’ve seen some of your customers are doing with Google that led to good results?
– Between burst and segmented or overall?
– Well, I have many, I hope. Yes, without mentioning the names of the company and it does refer I think also to what you just asked. Companies today that know how to really measure the K-factor have such a big advantage because they know exactly when to go from burst to segmented and they actually make their bursts segmented. So I think… You know, I’ll give you one example that I’m happy to speak about, is, if you look at Plarium that were recently acquired for a nice amount of money, I think that’s…
– Yeah, we have some representatives here today.
– We have here people from Plarium?
– So tell Gabby I’m talking about you. But they’re an amazing example of, one, measuring everything, but, two, exactly… You know, give YouTube as an example, like it’s hard to drive performance on YouTube. I’d say it’s almost impossible, but if you segmented and you tested and the ability to generate a lot of creatives over time and fast, etc., look at the impact, and especially look at the impact of the road to decision and not… You know, everybody thinks that attribution is new. It’s not new. Just everybody decided the attribution will be last click and that’s the attribution model. But if you know how to attribute and look at the impact of especially on the K-factor, that’s where you just nail your competitors. So those are, I think, the best success stories that I saw. If it would be game companies, non-game companies that really were able to measure, and then test, burst a little bit, take down, check, use different channels, see what’s impact, and blending everything, and not only media, it can be emails, it can be push notifications, it can be, you know, personal communications and to see the impact PR. PR can do excellent in terms of attribution, etc. And I think those are the best examples.
– This goes back to testing, testing, and testing. All right. So let’s have a big round of applause to our wonderful panelists.
– Thank you.