How recommendations help you stay relevant in content overload

How Recommendations Help You Stay Relevant in the Era of Content Overload

One thing we can guarantee about the future: we’re never going to run out of content.

Take TV for example. Where once we had a handful of channels broadcasting one program at a time, we now have multiple streaming platforms, countless cable channels, on demand, and DVRs.

Or music: You’re not limited by your carefully curated CD collection anymore. You can choose from almost any song ever recorded on Spotify.

For the content consumer, it’s an embarrassment of riches. For businesses that rely on advertising or subscription revenue, it’s a challenge.

Attention spans are shrinking. With endless options, consumers will move on in matters of seconds if what they see or hear doesn’t capture their interest.

To stay relevant in the media industry — bringing targeted audiences, charging top dollar for your ads and maintaining a healthy growing subscriber base — your content needs to be relevant.

And, of course, every consumer’s tastes are different. The key to relevance is personalization recommendations.

For example, after revamping its mobile website to deliver a personalized, Facebook-like experience, USA Today saw a 75-percent increase in time spent per article.

Recommendation Models Used By Successful Advertising and Subscription Businesses

As content executive Paul Lentz points out, publishers have been using data to target specific content at specific audiences since the print era.

In today’s digital era, a few successful media companies have developed recommendation techniques to engage and retain users with almost supernatural precision.

  • After experimenting with content-based and collaborative filtering, the New York Times settled on a best-of-both-worlds approach that models the content and adjusts it according to viewing signals from readers, models reader preferences, and uses the resulting data to make recommendations.
  • Netflix’s recommendation engine divides users up into “a couple thousand” taste groups. Netflix claims the engine is worth $1 billion a year and is responsible for more than 80 percent of the shows users choose.
  • Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlists have become a favorite feature among users for introducing them to new songs and reminding them of old favorites. The “magic” of the algorithm, the man behind the playlist says, comes from comparing your listening habits to those with similar taste and “filling in the blanks.”

What does each of these approaches have in common? Each media company leveraged a massive database of user data to make comparisons among users, identify trends in their preferences, and anticipate their behavior.

You can do the same with Blueshift’s AI-powered marketing platform. Blueshift can help you

Learn how to configure recommendations in a single click or bring your own algorithms to BlueShift Personalization Studio.

How Data AI and Automation Can Drive On-Demand Growth

How Data, AI, and Automation Can Drive On-Demand Growth

In the previous post, we outlined 5 tips for success in the on-demand economy. What each of these five tips comes down to is understanding what your users and service providers need, when they need it, and responding quickly and fluidly. In other words, anticipating what they want when they want it, and being there when they’re ready. This is how you build a community of enthusiastic, passionate users and service providers, eager to tell others about your brand.

How can you do all this? With the power of data.

We like to say that on-demand marketplaces are data-driven businesses. Every on-demand platform uses data in some way, and the successful companies are data-intensive operations.

But it’s not enough just to have the data about your customers and service providers. You need to derive useful insights from the data to provide immediate results and delight customers in real time. But with so much data coming in so quickly, our human brains can’t keep up. Artificial intelligence (AI) can.

Here are few ways successful on-demand service companies can use data and artificial intelligence to drive growth.

    1. Personalized onboarding. In the delivery business, once users sign onto a platform, 80 percent never leave. Artificial intelligence can pour through your customer data to personalize the onboarding process, ensuring customers feel cared-for even before they use your service.
    2. Personalized triggers and notifications. What users love about on-demand services is that they can find and track service providers effortlessly. AI platforms can automatically update customers and suppliers on delivery times, offer personalized choices based on where they are in their user journeys.
    3. Repeat transactions. Users who use the service again and again are the holy grail for on-demand businesses. With artificial intelligence, you can automatically target upsell and cross-sell opportunities for both buyers and service providers based on data. You can also segment them based on who is likely to re-engage or likely to churn, so you can target them with a tailored strategy.
    4. Curated content and offerings. Consumers demand relevant content, tailored to their interests and delivered to their device of choice. AI helps you personalize newsletters, web and in-app content, and recommendations based on user interests and affinities calculated from historic and up-to-the moment behavior
  1. Location-based personalization. As we said, most on-demand businesses start locally. With AI, you can segment your users based on where they are — but even more importantly, the context of why they’re there. You can provide location-specific offerings and recommendations across any channel, including the web, your mobile app, and SMS.

Explore How AI Can Transform Your On-Demand Service

On-demand businesses grow when they use data to understand the needs of their customers and service providers and connect them seamlessly. With a 360-degree view of your users and real-time insights powered by artificial intelligence, Blueshift can take the data crunching off of your hands so you can focus on strategy, growth, and retention.

To learn more about how Blueshift helps on-demand businesses grow, click here.

On-demand Economy

5 Tips for Success in the On-Demand Economy

How many times this year did you hear a business described as, “It’s like Uber, but for…”?

From groceries, to lodging, to — yes — transportation, a new crop of businesses has sprung up in recent years, providing their customers convenience at the push of a button.

And as the on-demand economy has risen, so have customer expectations that you should be able to get what you want, when you want it, with a minimum of fuss (and maybe even a bit of fun). Learn how data-driven marketing can help drive growth and sustainability in the long run.

The rise of the on-demand economy is intertwined with the sharing economy. Most on-demand service businesses aim to disrupt an existing industry by capitalizing on a ready-made workforce with a ready-made infrastructure. Uber and Lyft connect independent drivers with their own cars to passengers waiting for pickup. Postmates bridges the gap between hungry customers and the restaurants that surround them. Etsy helps artisans reach a nationwide marketplace.

The on-demand industry represents one of the best opportunities for business growth.

But some observers, such as Quartz, warn of an impending bubble collapse due to:

     Fickle customers.

     Expensive, sporadic services.

     A reliance on venture capital subsidies.

Despite these challenges, on-demand services can and have succeeded and gone on to become household names. How can you drive growth at your business?

5 Tips for Growth in the On-Demand Economy

Whether you’re starting out or trying to build momentum, here are a few tips to help your on-demand service business grow:

  1. Focus on passionate users first. One of the keys to getting an on-demand business off the ground is building up a critical mass of highly-engaged early adopters. The early adopters can be your first evangelists. If you can delight them with a seamless experience and a high-quality service, they’ll spread the word to new groups of users.
  2. Personalize customer experience. People are busy. Customers of on-demand services choose convenience over price. They expect you to know them, inform them and send them relevant information wherever they are in the lifecycle. Knowing and engaging your customers in real-time is essential to driving loyalty.
  3. Engage service providers/sellers. As an on-demand business in the sharing economy, you have to keep two very different groups of stakeholders engaged: users and service providers. Don’t neglect the service provider side of the equation. Ultimately, they’re the ones who will represent you to your customers. And whether or not they’re empowered to deliver a pleasing service can make or break your company
  4. Build a community. Etsy is the perfect example of turning a service into a community— by nurturing a two-sided marketplace. Forbes writes: “With tools to curate sellers and products, and opportunities to connect with other buyers and sellers, Etsy has turned into one of the strongest communities out there and is creating passionate users every day.”
  5. Practice location-based marketing. Most on-demand services are local. Location-based marketing strategies such as geo-fencing, running hyper-localized campaigns are key to on-demand success.

See how data, AI and automation can drive on-demand success.

AI and Human is Magic

AI+Human is magic: 3 Lessons from the Stitch Fix IPO About Personalization

Do you remember when was the last time you had fun shopping for new clothes? Me neither.

Over the past several years, the cycle of searching for, trying on, buying, and returning clothes has lost whatever joy it used to bring. In retail shops, you spend more time trying to find parking or standing in the checkout lines, than actually looking for what you like. Online, the sheer amount of selection is dizzying; you’re caught in a maze of price comparisons and unreliable customer reviews. And when you finally make a purchase, it’s inevitably the wrong size, triggering an arduous return process.

So, when I started using Stitch Fix recently, it was like stumbling upon an oasis of personalization, usability, and — yes! — fun in the otherwise lifeless fashion-buying desert. If you have read some of my earlier posts, you know by now that I am a fan. And I’m not alone. Founded by entrepreneur Katrina Lake in 2011, Stitch Fix filed for its IPO last Thursday. According to its filing, the startup has grown to serve more than 2 million customers, the vast majority of which are repeat buyers. In fiscal 2017, Stitch Fix reached nearly $1 billion in sales.

With so many other clothing retailers struggling, and in the face of intense competition from giants like Amazon, how is Stitch Fix succeeding?

In a word: personalization. On the road to its IPO, Stitch Fix has demonstrated three crucial lessons about the power of 1:1 marketing, made scalable by technology.

1. Every Customer Is Different; Every Experience Should Be Different

Here’s how StitchFix works:

You fill out a fashion profile on their website and pay a $20 styling fee. Using its proprietary data science/AI fashion-matching technology, plus the expertise of a personal stylist, Stitch Fix selects a mix of five clothing items and accessories and ships them to you. You can try on the clothes, purchase what you want, and send back the rest. Shipping is free both ways. Customers like me appreciate Stitch Fix for its seamless buying experience. But we love it for its personalization.

  • No two shipments are the same. Each is tailored to the fashion taste of an individual customer, yet dialed into modern trends.
  • As you continue to use Stitch Fix, it “learns” more about you. The fashion matching technology hits home more often than not, and your returns become less frequent.
2. Data Can Make Your Customers Feel Human

One of the worst aspects of digitization is being treated as faceless. The genius of Stitch Fix is that it uses numbers to re-humanize people. Their personalization technology starts by gathering 85 data points on each of its customers. The Stitch Fix IPO filing proclaims: “Our data science capabilities fuel our business.” Stitch Fix Chief Analytics Officer Eric Colson heads up the algorithm team that matches customers to clothing. He previously did a similar job at Netflix, another company that struck gold after realizing its role wasn’t to push products, but to engage with customers on an individual level — and smart use of data science is the way to scale the whole thing.

3. AI + Humans = Magic

The proprietary Stitch Fix algorithms are powerful tools. And they work best in the hands of experts who know how to deploy them to solve real-world fashion dilemmas. When I ordered from Stitch Fix, a computer program may have done the heavy analytics, but one of the company’s 600 stylists applied the finishing touches. As YEC points out, “In this way, the recommendation technology enables humans to do their jobs better, not the other way around.”

The Stitch Fix IPO emerged from the realization that personalization for each and every customer can be scalable — thanks to data science, algorithms, and artificial intelligence.

Using Real-Time Customer Data for 1:1 Marketing

With the right technology, you can apply the same approach to your marketing. Whether you’re reaching out through email, push notifications, SMS, or any other channel, you can tailor your message to each customer, drawing on real-time data for 1:1 marketing.

To learn more, download “The Path to Predictive 1-to-1 Marketing”.

Re-engagement Campaigns

3 Re-engagement Campaigns You Can Run In FB That Will Grow Your Revenues

With more than 2B monthly active users in Facebook, Facebook is a great channel for customer acquisition. But with the power of your first party customer behavior data, you have a big opportunity to run re-engagement campaigns using Facebook Custom Audiences that drive your revenues.

You have access to powerful first party data around user engagement, browsing and purchase behavior that you can add on top of Facebook user data such as user age, gender and interests. Create segments based on real time customer behavior such as ‘opened email’, ‘clicked on sms message’ etc. and automatically sync them with Facebook, so you can run high performing and targeted re-engagement campaigns.

Convert users that opened emails

Customers who opened emails are more likely to convert after seeing an ad. Real-time audience sync based on your first party behavioral data helps you maximize conversion by sending targeted re-engagement campaigns to these users on Facebook.

Bring back users that are inactive or at risk of churn

On average people spend more than 20 minutes a day on Facebook and for those in US that is up to 40 minutes a day. That screams opportunity. Reach out to users where they spend time. Target inactive users where they are most actively engaged and bring them back with reactivation campaigns.

Nurture users with automated campaigns across their life-cycle

Users interact across different channels. By adding Facebook as a re-engagement channel, you can create seamless cross channel experiences that nurture your users. Automate life-cycle specific campaigns based on where users are on their customer journey such as,

  • Welcome campaigns to new users
  • Re-sell/re-engage campaigns to one-time customers
  • Loyalty campaigns to repeat customers

In essence, by importing and syncing your behavior data with Facebook custom audiences in real-time, you can re-target users based on their upto-the-moment behavior. Automate campaigns based on real time behavior for the best engagement.

To learn how you can improve the ROI of your Facebook retargeting campaigns, see “Big target is the wrong target: Improve the effectiveness of Facebook retargeting“.


Interested in learning more? Check this out for more information how Blueshift can automatically sync your segments with Facebook in realtime.


Big Target is the wrong target for Facebook Retargeting

A Big Target is the Wrong Target: How to Increase Effectiveness of Facebook Retargeting

Targeting everybody is targeting nobody. 

With average CPC rates ranging from $2 up to $5, broad targeting on Facebook can soon get expensive and highly ineffective. But by bringing your first party customer and behavioral data to Facebook, you can create precise audience segments that improve the ROI of your ad spend.

Create segments based on user behavior and sync with Facebook

Segment users based on a unified view of their cross channel behavior in real time (opened email, clicked on SMS message etc) and sync these segments in real-time with Facebook Custom Audiences to drive high performing campaigns.

Send the right campaign to the right audience

Targeting is not effective without relevant campaign messaging. Tailor segment specific campaigns such as send welcome campaigns to new users, re-engagement campaigns to inactive users and loyalty messages to regular users for lift in engagement.

With automated audience sync in “real-time” and precise retargeting, you can be sure your ad dollars pay off.

Are you using Facebook for re-engaging your users? See “3 re-engagement campaigns you can run in FB that will grow your revenues“.

 


Learn more on how Blueshift can automatically sync your segments with Facebook in realtime.


 

Blueshift partners with branch to offere personalized deep linking for email, mobile

Branch and Blueshift: Enabling seamless cross-channel personalization

With Blueshift’s personalization and Branch’s deep linking capabilities, marketers can now deliver  frictionless personalized experiences to their users across all channels.

Let’s take the instance of Jane. Jane is browsing through email on her mobile phone during her short break, and an email promotion for a weekend get-away grabs her attention. Clicking on the email leads her to the app’s home page where she spends a few secs looking for the promotional offer. Frustrated, she moves on to the next email assuming the get away is not meant to be, and makes alternate plans for the weekend. Not only did Jane not convert, she also had a frustrating experience with the app, making it less likely for her to go back.

In the example above, if Jane did not have the app installed, she might have been taken to the right page on the mobile website in her browser, albeit without any of the advantages of frictionless transaction on the app. Just like mobile websites have URLs that can “deep-link” to the right content, marketers need the ability to deep-link into mobile apps. Additionally, they need the ability to automatically detect if the customer has an app installed, and route the customer appropriately to the deep-linked content on the website or the app.

That is why we are excited to partner with Branch, the leader in deep linking. Combined with Blueshift’s personalization and recommendation capabilities on email, mobile apps and mobile websites, this provides the modern marketer a way to deliver seamless personalization to the perpetually connected customer.

Deliver frictionless experience with deep links

Deep links automatically take a user to in-app content or to the web if the app is not already installed. Mobile apps with deep links show 3x higher conversion. Blueshift supports deep links at scale in both email (for web and mobile) and SMS/push notifications and provides full attribution from first campaign to final conversion.

Here is an example of Blueshift’s native support for deep-linking:

 

Deepen engagement with personalization

Unlike other marketing platforms, Blueshift’s AI powered platform listens to every behavior in real-time and allows you to automatically add personalized content and products that are most relevant to the user in any channel. You can lead users to personalized in-app content or landing pages by adding deep links to your email, SMS or push notifications – driving higher conversions across. Track and optimize campaigns as you go with full attribution across all your channels.

With data, automation and AI – all in one platform, and integration with Branch.io, Blueshift allows you to deliver highly relevant and frictionless cross-channel experiences that lead to higher engagement, conversion and thereby, revenues.

Industry Deep Dive

The 4 Best Growth Marketing Campaigns That Delight Travelers

This series of blogs goes into detailed campaigns that growth marketers can run for specific industries. These campaigns are tailored towards goals and revenue that growth marketers are responsible for. Our third industry deep dive takes a look at the digital travel booking industry and campaigns specifically tailored for growth marketers to move users along the buying cycle fast and keep them coming back for more purchases.

The digital travel industry has come a long way in the past decade. What started from a handful of booking sites has grown into thousands of websites all fighting for attention through price comparisons, user experience, loyalty benefits, convenience, etc. Everyone is working hard to differentiate themselves from their competition. What they all have in common is thousands of people coming to their site everyday, ever changing inventory and prices, and millions of unique searches of what people are looking for. This creates the perfect recipe for growth marketers to cook up something new in digital engagement campaigns.

Below are 4 personalized email and notification campaigns growth marketers at digital travel companies launch to reduce churn. 

Abandoned Search

For your known users who make a search on your site and do not make a purchase, you can recommend fares based on their recent search with the dates and location from the search. This has to be sent out 1, 3, & 7 days after the search since it is a time sensitive search.

Add a Hotel/Car

A great up-sell campaign for customers who have recently booked a flight on your site is a personalized offer to add a hotel or car to their booking on those same dates based on the flight location/dates. This has to be executed immediately or between 1 and 3 days of the customer booking the flight.

Trending Getaway Deals

This is a great evergreen campaign for all your users to send them the latest and trending weekend getaway deals personalized based on their specific location. It can be sent on a weekly or monthly recurring basis. below is an example using a visitors location to deliver weekend getaways within relatively close distance to them.

Location based recommendations

 

Promotions

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 12.04.36 PM

Promotional Sale

Another great evergreen campaign that requires little work on the marketers part is a promotions campaign. Airlines and hotels put out promotional offers every now and then and those can be used to send personalized offers of deals from nearby airports/locations based on the user’s location to your active customers on a weekly or monthly basis.

 

 

 

 

 


Watch out for more posts about growth marketing, and check out our comprehensive guide here for everything you need to know about the subject.

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Reduce Churn for Subscription Service

Top 4 Campaigns that Reduce Churn for Subscription Service Companies

This series of blogs goes into detailed campaigns that growth marketers can run for specific industries. These campaigns are tailored towards goals and revenue that growth marketers are responsible for. Our second industry deep dive takes a look at the subscription service industry and campaigns for growth marketers to reduce churn and increase customer loyalty.

The subscription service model is unique compared to the conventional retail sales cycle. They measure their business with different metrics and have different goals. Some metrics that growth marketers at subscription companies are held accountable for are churn, up-sell, and win-backs. Much can be done to impact each of these metrics at different stages of the customer lifecycle. Here is a breakdown of personalized emails and push notification campaigns to use for reducing churn and increasing revenue for a subscription service company.

Churn Intervention: Marketing teams can use churn score rates to create a segment of at-risk customers based on their behavior or low engagement with the product. These customers can be sent personalized offers or incentives based on their purchase or browse history to continue the subscription on day 1, 7, and 30 days after they qualify for the churn list.

Subscription Upsell

Subscription upsell example from Birchbox. Prompting customers to gift a box for valentine’s day.

 

 

Subscription Up-sell: AI driven scoring can highlight customers with high up-sell propensity based on high engagement volume with the product. These highly engaged customers are great for incentivizing to switch to the next subscription tier since they are satisfied with their current tier. These messages can be sent out 1, 7, and 30 days after they show behavior of high up-sell propensity.

 

Sense of urgency for customers who have not signed up

 

 

 

Abandoned Cart: For the visitors on your site who have shared their email address but not made their first purchase or were in the middle of making a purchase but abandoned the session can be reached out to with very specific product they were looking at. Since these customers have not yet made a purchase it is imperative that the outreach be fast and timely (1, 3, 7 days after abandonment) or else they lose their intent to make a purchase or reason for considering the product in the first place.

Offering a free snack and discount to churned customers

 

 

Win-back: For those hard to convince churned customers, growth marketers can offer personalized promotions based on an uplift strategy. The cadence can be 1, 2, and 3 months after churn since you don’t want to annoy these customers who are already out of the buying cycle. They no longer see the value in the service and it’s very hard to change their mindset while not putting them off.

 

 

 

 


Watch out for more posts about growth marketing, and check out our comprehensive guide here for everything you need to know about the subject.

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Reduce Churn

5 Must-Have Campaigns for Media and Publishing Marketers to Drive Growth

In this series of blogs I go into detailed campaigns that growth marketers can run for specific industries. These campaigns are tailored towards goals and revenue that growth marketers are responsible for. Our first industry deep dive is taking a look at the media and publishing industry.

Weekly digest email

Weekly Digest by grow by Acorns

The media and publishing industry is very content heavy and always changing. This high volume of time sensitive content gives growth marketers an opportunity to serve users fresh 1:1 content in many creative ways. With new content being added continuously and hundreds of thousands of people interacting with their content every hour, growth marketers have a huge amount of data at their disposal for engaging their readers and keep them coming back everyday. Below are the 5 top programs growth marketers in media and publishing industry use to drive higher customer engagement.

Personalized weekly digest: Recommend the best content of the week based on a user’s browsing history and attributes like location to all active users on a weekly basis.

 

Developing story alert

Developing Story Alert by Huffington Post

 

 

Developing story alerts: For news publications, updates to stories that users have previously expressed an interest or interacted with. This can be indicated by their browsing history or previous searches. Because of the news being time sensitive, the update should be sent within 15 min of the update.

 

Category affinity

Category Affinity Email by Flipboard

Category Affinity: Many media companies ask users about what topics they are interested in and want to see more of. Users can also show their affinity with a strong browsing and buying preference for a few categories. Recommend trending content from the categories preferred by the user on a weekly recurring basis.

 

Subscription Upsell: Convert freemium users to paid subscribers with relevant offers who have shown high purchase intent based on predictive scores. The cadence can be 1, 7, and 30 days after customer’s behavior indicates that they have a high intent.

 

Trending Content: Push out messages to highly active users recommending content that’s trending now in terms of views as soon as some new content becomes trending or newsworthy.

 


Watch out for more posts about growth marketing, and check out our comprehensive guide here for everything you need to know about the subject.

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