For friends of analytics and interactive marketing, it is always a delight to find new technology vendors that take a fresh look at solving the problems in the market.
So, I was fascinated to learn about Whatsnexx’ and their paradigm for marketing automation: Customer State Marketing.
You will probably say that the idea of treating customers in different situations/states with different next best actions is common to all campaign management and marketing automation solutions.
But the degree to which Whatsnexx elevated “Customer State” to the central paradigm is unique, I believe. And, it is one of those mental images that immediately clicks!
So, I was curious to ask Jacques Spilka from Whatsnexx’ a few questions about Customer State Marketing and their approach to marketing automation.
Did Whatsnexx’ define the term Customer State Marketing?
Jacques: Customer State Marketing is a paradigm that we have coined, and our graphic interface and approach are patented. “State” is the key differentiator between what we do and what B2C MA solution providers offer.
Did you build Whatsnexx more for certain industries than others (e.g. B2B, B2C, etc)?
Jacques: No. Whatsnexx grew out of a need to tie various applications together without the need to create a centralized database first. One of the problems that we faced at Komunik, an email marketing service provider, was the need to build a synchronization bridge with the various databases that contained the data the client required to send 1-to-1 communications. Another problem was that whenever we wanted to do various trigger-based campaigns, we always had delays imposed by the I.T. department’s existing backlog. We set out to resolve both of these problems by designing an application that allows the marketer to define their rule set (e.g. when this happens then take these actions) without regards as to where the data resides, and without having to involve I.T. to codify the rules in the local or target application.
How does the paradigm extend to the next level of detail, e.g. a regular customer browses product X on the website but doesn’t purchase it. If company sells 20 different products will they have to build 20 states to do remarketing campaigns relevant to each abandoned product? (i assume not)
Jacques: The marketer defines the granularity of the program they are designing. We have one customer who allows their members to download various white papers. Each white paper can have up to 50 “topic” tags associated with it. Currently the marketer has defined two different scenarios as they are only interested in doing an upsell for two different topics. Ultimately they could define 50 scenarios, one for each topic tag. The scenarios work as follows: each time a member downloads a white paper (a download “event”) the scenario tests to see if the tags contain the upsell topic. If so then an upsell email is sent (i.e. the action) to the member. There is then a 7 day waiting period where no more emails for that specific topic are sent (i.e. the member is in a Wait state). After the 7 days are up the member is returned to a Solicitable state.
If I may, here is a more complete explanation:
A subject ecosystem can consist of multiple scenarios. Each scenario can address a different aspect of the marketing program (e.g. acquisition, retention, cross-sell…). A scenario can contain multiple states. A subject (e.g. a client) is always in one state in each scenario, though not necessarily the same state in every scenario. This allows the marketer to create the granularity they need to enact their marketing programs. You could view the scenario states as sub-states. In the example above, a member could be in a solicitable state in one scenario (e.g. Topic 1) and be in a wait state in another scenario (e.g. Topic 2).
How does Whatsnexx connect to customers’ transactions and other behavioral data?
Jacques: Whatsnexx receives events from other systems in the form of simple XML tickets that contain the attributes (i.e. data) required to run the scenario. For example, a newsletter sign-up form would provide Whatsnexx an XML ticket that contains an email, first name, and last name field. If a customer purchases an item then the XML ticket could contain the item number, the quantity and the transaction value. The only constraint on events is the ability to detect them.
The key to this approach is to identify all of the detectable events that the marketer wishes to respond to. They then have the relevant systems create an XML ticket whenever one of these events occurs, regardless of the subject’s current state. Whatsnexx receives the event and then implements the marketers rule set according to the subject’s current state in the ecosystem.
How does Whatsnexx connect to executing marketing messages? e.g. does it spit out targeting lists?
Jacques: Whatsnexx executes actions through infogates (i.e. connectors) that conform to the target system’s API. The only constraint on actions is the targets systems API. In some cases, such as sending print messages where minimum run sizes are desired, it may be preferable to accumulate the action requests in a queue that the target system picks up on a periodic basis. The same applies if the target system is behind a firewall. In that case, the action requests can be placed on an FTP server that the target system can query on a scheduled basis.
Software or cloud based?
Whatsnexx is entirely cloud-based. There are two components to Whatsnexx: Whatsnexx Studio, the design tool that you saw in the how-to videos; Whatsnexx Gateway, the execution tool that works in the cloud.
Studio is free to download and runs locally on a Windows platform. Studio can be used to brainstorm, model scenarios and define state workflows.
Gateway is available to subscribers who can publish the ecosystems they build with Studio for execution on the Microsoft Azure cloud.
For more videos from Whatsnexx, see their resources page.