Author: Sudipto Ghosh
Intelligent Content remains the final frontier for content marketers in 2018. According to the recent Forrester Research report, titled, “Vendor Landscape: Personalization Solution Providers, Q3 2017”, 78 percent of US online adults have chosen, recommended or paid more for a brand that has personalized an experience or service. To enable marketers with intelligent content, Movable Ink provides personalized email content solution that drives performance, increases productivity and deliver compelling consumer experiences. Bridget Bidlack, Movable Ink’s SVP of Product, speaks to us about her company’s role in pioneering a cutting-edge martech product for intelligent content.
Tell us about your role in Movable Ink and the team you handle.
Movable Ink’s product team is focused on understanding larger digital marketing trends and our clients’ specific needs. We integrate these insights into products that enable marketers to generate engaging and powerful consumer experiences that drive revenue and loyalty. Movable Ink is a very product-focused organization. While brand image and company culture are important, we believe the value of our products is what ultimately attracts clients and partners.
Being involved in enterprise product leadership with leading martech and adtech companies my entire career has kept me attuned to the true needs and challenges of digital marketers based on rapid technology advancements, customer needs, and market shifts. As SVP of Product, it’s my role to drive Movable Ink’s product vision, as well as define and develop a clear roadmap for products capabilities that transform and promote innovation in email marketing.
The product team, including product management, UX and design, and data science, partner with engineers and product marketing to execute our product vision and ensure that the products we develop make it as easy as possible for marketers to innovate creative experiences. Movable Ink pioneered the application of intelligent content into email and provides the world’s first platform that automatically activates data within content to generate personalized experiences in real-time.
Our product strategy has been very successful. We’ve created a strong, yet flexible roadmap and also regularly conduct user research, test our ideas, and communicate transparently both internally and externally. Today, 500+ of the world’s most iconic brands are using our products to personalize content with data at the moment of open. We have revealed many new product capabilities over the past year and have lots of exciting developments planned for the rest of 2018 and beyond.
What are your predictions for marketing technology for the rest of 2018?
With recent data breaches at big enterprises and new regulations coming like GDPR in May, there’s going to continue to be a heightened awareness this year in the industry around data privacy and security. At the same time, there’s more desire than ever among brands to use available consumer data to inform their marketing decisions.
This is the big challenge that Movable Ink is helping brands solve. We built our platform with an eye towards marketers from the very start. When building a product, we always first ask what problem are we trying to solve and for whom are we trying to solve it for. Based on that, our goal is to always use technology to make innovation easier for marketers, not more complex.
Our platform has a very lightweight integration framework – meaning it’s easy for marketers to use data in real time to personalize content – all without having to store the data. Today, it’s great that we can do this with business rules, but another marketing technology trend I see that will continue this year is a further push into machine learning and AI. In email specifically, machine learning will increasingly be used to figure out the best way to construct and present content for more meaningful experiences.
Why? Modern marketing communication – in email or really any channel – is the end result of hundreds or thousands of decisions. Which audience, what frequency, timing, channel, offer, layout, image, colors, fonts, etc. Today we think of machine learning as primarily applicable to distribution (whether and when) and message (which product and offer). We don’t think of it as playing much of a role in marketing content production. But the creative experience is the end result and how the consumer interacts with the brand. If the creative isn’t compelling, the rest doesn’t matter.
As AI continues to evolve, it will also grow to support layout, language, visual identity, voice, and tone. This doesn’t mean AI will replace human creativity. Instead, it will augment and multiply the capabilities of marketers.
What are the core tenets of delivering personalized customer experience via email?
The core tenets of delivering personalized consumer experiences are speed, scale, automation, and relevance (all related to content). Marketers need to get campaigns out faster than ever, need to personalize content at scale and make sure that the content is the most relevant to each individual consumer based on multiple factors. This creates big challenges for email marketers because it’s extremely time-consuming and resource intensive to generate personalized content at scale.
Traditionally, the challenge with email is that content is created at send time. Once you send it, that’s it. The value of Movable Ink is that marketers can look at things like the most recent touchpoint with the customer and tailor the content to what that customer is most interested in at that specific moment. This allows our clients to provide their customers with the most relevant content when it matters (when the customer is actually looking at content vs. when it’s sent). By automating this process, marketers can execute this kind of personalization at mass scale – something impossible to do manually.
How do you see contemporary data intelligence platforms impacting the performance of personalized content for email marketing?
Today, brands have many disparate data sets, and data intelligence platforms are helping to unify data and allow marketers to analyze and use data sets to create audience segments for targeting and personalization. It is also beneficial when marketers have access to raw, unstructured data, and apply data science and machine learning to tease out hidden customer signals and identify common attributes that are most meaningful to the customer.
This allows marketers to target customers in a given industry based on what’s most relevant. For example, for a customer very loyal to an airline, marketers can see what their normal preferences are (do they always buy coach or first class? What destination did they most recently search for?) and use this data to drive the content. In fact, one of our products called Signals addresses this. Customers reveal their buying intentions on websites everyday, yet email marketers still struggle to personalize messages using behavioral data. Signals enables marketers to activate and engage customers based on their website and mobile app behaviors and create relevant and persuasive content for each customer automatically.
How does Movable Ink enable email marketers to deliver real-time content and optimization? What’s the principal driving the content experience technology?
Movable Ink’s intelligent content platform is the first comprehensive enterprise solution that automates the creation, deployment, and measurement of personalized email content. The principal driving force behind our technology is the serious challenge marketers face today. It’s very difficult to produce highly personalized, on-brand content for their email programs. Email technologies have historically helped marketers send more emails, send emails to targeted customer segments, and send more emails based on triggers or customer journeys. Yet in most cases, marketers are stuck sending the same, few pieces of static content with very little personalization.
How have we tackled this? In the beginning, our content apps enabled marketers to integrate things like countdown clocks, local maps, social media feeds, and website content via APIs into their emails, as well as target consumers based on location and device. Automating the process of bringing in content from other channels – most popular content on social channels, favorited tweets, real-time pricing and inventory, and much more – was a formidable advancement for email content at that time, but the sophisticated marketers using Movable Ink had even great visions of where to take their marketing programs, we listened, collaborated and built the capabilities to enable their dreams.
Fast forward to today, Movable Ink ’s technology powers sophisticated personalization and targeting based on behavioral data and machine learning. With our easy to use platform, marketers can pull scattered content from websites, social media, CRM data, CSV files, APIs and other sources right into an email. They can then repurpose and reformat that content to drive the best possible experience. We’ve also taken big steps in empowering our clients to leverage our product themselves in an easy drag and drop graphics editor without the need for coding or access to developer resources.
How critical is it for modern email marketing platforms to leverage AI and machine learning capabilities for better performance and engagement?
AI and machine learning capabilities are becoming more important for better email performance and engagement. There’s been a lot of concern in the industry about the compatibility of AI and content. We believe that they can not only co-exist, but must work together to engage customers and help brands grow. At Movable Ink, we’re bullish on the long-term potential for machine learning in marketing, both within our platform and in conjunction with other technology providers.
Our intelligent content platform is helping bridge the gap between creative professionals and email marketers. It enables brands to automatically version campaign creative, using data to create millions of uniquely personalized images. It allows marketers to use contextual, behavioral, and customer information to adapt and and transform graphics, increasing engagement and conversions. Calls to action, product information, images, ratings, reviews, social content and more can all be combined to create optimized content at the moment of interaction with a customer.
Now, imagine how machine learning can be applied to email marketing. Since personalized content can now be automated, they can also be optimized in real time. Machine learning will help creative teams become more persuasive and personalized, more responsive and more relevant. It will help them respond to real-time events, and develop new brand experiences through graphic design. Machine learning will be the essential capability in generating optimized content for every customer at any moment.
What mistakes should email marketers avoid in 2018?
A big one is not taking advantage of data. CMOs at the biggest brands have spent years and massive budgets on compiling customer data across all channels and touchpoints. Unfortunately, much of this valuable data goes unused, and in fact is not even readily available to the email marketers in these organizations.
Obviously, not personalizing content is a big mistake, as personalized content is now table stakes for brand communications.
Not taking the time to experiment is also something email marketers should avoid. Part of optimizing is trying and testing different things. Email marketers shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with content and find new ways to push the boundaries of innovation. Trying something completely new could be the ticket to a campaign that performs better than anything in the past and opens doors to a whole line of future campaigns.
Thanks for chatting with us, Bridget.