The New Context Marketing Applications

  |  November 25, 2013   |  Comments

Columnist Rand Schulman shares new insights that in mobile and marketing possibilities, gleaned from his visit to Dreamforce and other recent announcements.

shutterstock-147642644These are very exciting times to be in marketing, as we are going through a massive transition of roles, tools and outcomes. All businesses are being held to higher standards of measurable performance and ROI.

Last week, I attended Dreamforce in San Francisco to hear from industry muses like Marc, Marissa and Sheryl. I was also witness to a changing of the guard, from the old school PWCs and Adobe, through the newer companies like Good Data, Domo and InsideView.

However, as at most big events, the real action came from off the field and centered on those more private moments. It was during those after-hour events that I got a peek at a few creative products from young developers that could change our lives. That's where I found the real action at Dreamforce.

Let me share with you new insights that I learned about mobile and marketing possibilities from my Dreamforce visit and other announcements.

It's no surprise that mobile changes most (if not all) things marketing, as a mobile device is a very personal device. It's part of us, most of the time. It has a heartbeat and a brain; whether we like it or not, it knows where we are, where we've been, and what we see, all based on copious amounts of data from scores of signals. It knows where we'll likely go, what we'll do and what we will buy.

A few notes about these signals or expressions: They are both internal and external to the device and we're able to collect, access and display in real-time (sometimes under a millisecond) content. This infrastructure is driven by new technology from institutions like SRI, Google, and PRAC, who've given us Siri and artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet itself. Or, as Salesforces now says, "The Internet of Customers."

Yes, today, we are entering the disruption zone. The old guard is moving relatively slowly, as they have to support their base and integrate millions of users. The upstarts off the main roads, meanwhile, are creating a future of applications that address web and mobile utilization, ease of use and meaningful content for the betterment of the end user and businesses alike.

Since the Internet of Customers is very personal and is "always on," we need to consider user context and when, where, and how we communicate with our customers and prospects. We need less interruption-based communications and more engagement-based, instead, which is the new face of marketing. We are living in a world of personal relevance bubbles, where context is key.

This new breed of application, more marketing automation-like, will utilize concepts from inbound and content marketing; it will give both web and mobile application users (who have opted in to their apps) a vast array of new choices and information. Many of these new apps will be used in both a BtoB and BtoC environment. As with many old school marketing automation systems, firing off email messages, scoring and attribution will be critical to driving this real-time content.

Here's a sample of a few of those companies from last week and some of their bold ideas. What's common is that all of these applications are data-based and drive action; in theory, a marketing person can understand this and find it no more difficult than using Wordpress.

These new applications produce action -- not just static analytic reporting, as most BI tools do, which I've also written about quite a bit recently in our Convergence Analytic Reports.

Bislr bills itself as "The Intelligent Marketing OS," a very aspirational claim for sure, but I like the fact they're taking a big swing. Bislr enables the business to learn more about prospects as they browse a site and mobile app (or in social media), then connects this information to any other system of record with a very simple drag and drop visual editor; no custom connections, IT or coders required. In theory, the marketer can test different headlines and visuals to find out what works across channels. A/B testing comes standard and their mobile demo was really compelling. It reminds me of NeXT OS and I hope it works.

Evergage basically lets you build highly personalized pages that display data customized for the visitor. I'm told their visual editor allows you to add behavioral analytics tracking to the website with just a few clicks, then create and launch a personalized user experience in just minutes.

Appboy, while not at Dreamforce, announced their first big funding round last week. Appboy bills itself as a "Mobile Relationship Marketing App" and builds individual profiles automatically based on users' demographics, behavior, and in-app purchases. Their algorithms then create user segments you can target with relevant messaging in real-time (when the shopper is in the store). Through in-app messaging, email and a personalized news feed feature, Appboy says it optimizes communication with each user. That makes for individualized experiences, which tests show increases engagement dramatically.

It's true that vendors abuse cliché terms (like real-time) and I've been skeptical about marketing skill levels. However, with this new breed of application, I trust that we can enter a new era, where marketers can use both their creative and analytical skills to benefit users.

Title image courtesy of Shutterstock


Rand Schulman

Rand Schulman is a pioneer in digital marketing and new media. He was founder and CEO of one of the first SaaS-based web-analytics companies, Keylime Software (Yahoo) and lead products and strategy at Webtrends; was CMO of WebSideStory(Omniture/Adobe) through its IPO; was general manager of Unica's Internet Division (IBM); and is a co-founder and board director, and is an emeritus board director of the DAA. He's been a trustee of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation and is an executive-in-residence at the University of the Pacific for New Media and Marketing and was managing partner at SchulmanThorogood Group.

He is currently board member and advises numerous mobile and social media companies and is a managing partner with Efectyv Digital. You can contact Rand at or follow him on Twitter at @randschulman.

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