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Roberto Muñoz, Head of Loyalty Travel at Puntos Colombia manages a joint program between Colombia’s largest bank Bancolombia and Latin American retailer Grupo Éxito. Prior to his current role, he was a strategist for Aeroméxico’s loyalty program Club Premier. The brand marketing leader shares key insights about digital channels for loyalty marketing with Portada including how tech and digital channels enable companies to engage and gain new customers and keep them happy coming back.

Interview conducted by Alejandra Velazquez

Roberto Muñoz, Portada, e-mail marketing
Roberto Muñoz, Puntos Colombia @puntoscolombia

Technology plays a crucial role in enabling marketers to do a better job. In fact, 84% of executives surveyed by Accenture agree that companies are using technology to weave themselves seamlessly into how people live today. 

“Technology helps us to segment audiences. It sparks activation” Muñoz says, adding “Technology provides us the data to develop the right targeting strategies. That way, we keep captive users interested and lure in new consumers via their passion points, like travel, fashion and entertainment. The challenge is recruiting customers that actually interact with the brand, not just sign their name on a list.” But nothing matters if the information isn’t properly documented. The challenge is tracking customer data and applying it correctly in order to serve your marketing strategy. A department that manages and filters big data correctly is always a must.

But nothing matters if the information isn’t documented properly. A department that manages and filters big data correctly is always a must.

Digital Channels: E-mail Marketing is Still an Effective Tool

“Digital channels are key to bring new customers into our loyalty programs. You can target specific audiences by sending key messages. 85% of our customers say they read our news through e-mail marketing. I’ve heard many experts talk about the death of e-mail marketing, but our numbers show the contrary,” Muñoz asserts.

Segmenting information via e-mail is the only thing that ensures the client remains active in your program.

According to Muñoz, segmenting information via e-mail is the only thing that ensures the client remains active in your program. Many strategists say “leave your most valuable customers alone, you don’t want them to get bored. I think when you’re really involved with a brand, you don’t mind how often they contact you. You know you’ll get relevant content eventually.”

…Social? Not so much

“Social network strategies are too focused on massive audiences. We address and recruit a very small percentage of users on social networks. Some programs only want users to click here and then to subscribe to a given program and get an immediate benefit. However, out of all users who sign up, a tiny percentage will actually become involved. You invest a lot of money and end up with a handful of users akin to your brand. One time in Aeroméxico we set a goal to sign up one million new customers onto our base. But in the end, less than 5% of those clients were actual travelers. The rest had been “bullied into it” by the hoards of ads we’d purchased on digital.” 

You invest a lot of money and end up with a handful of users akin to your brand.

Three Ways to Get Customer Feedback

Reliable customer feedback is also an important piece of Puntos Colombia’s strategy for using digital channels for loyalty marketing. Muñoz has developed three ways to approach customers:  direct meetings, focus groups, and surveys.

“High-profile customers get invited to breakfast or lunch to offer their feedback and opinions about the program. Nothing is as valuable as having customers tell you how they feel in person. We have a very direct style of approaching customers. The director of the program may have a sit down with customers and explain what they can and can’t do about their non-conformities.”

They also have focus groups conducted through third-party researchers. Because when consumers don’t know they’re speaking directly to a brand, it helps them give unbiased feedback. Last but not least, there’s surveys. Many valuable customers take the time to respond and are often rewarded with incentives like additional points. The incentives help ensure they are interested in giving their honest opinion.

Reliable customer feedback is also an important piece of Puntos Colombia’s strategy.

Roberto Muñoz, Head of Loyalty, Travel at Puntos Colombia, will be one of the dozens of brand marketing innovators present at Portada Miami on June 4, 2020. If you are interested in participating in Portada Miami and/or in Portada’s networking and knowledge-sharing platform with brand marketers please contact us here.

AI is on the way to transforming the marketing world as we speak. While it is still in its nascent stage, it offers marketers a wealth of tools for leveraging data about customers to understand their preferences and journey with your products.

More importantly, it allows brands to keep up with customers’ increasingly high standards and expectations. Customers want their interactions with brands to feel personal and relevant, and AI enables a level of targeting and tracking that any marketer should get excited about.

But distinguishing between what can be implemented now and what will be possible in the near future is important, as the field of AI is in constant evolution. Here, we break down the different ways marketers can use AI to streamline operations, deliver better customer experiences and channel data into insight.

Defining AI

 AI can be defined as a subset of computer science through which machines display “intelligence” by making predictions and decisions. AI acquires intelligence based on the analysis of data sets, a process enabled by algorithms that tell the machine how to complete tasks and interpret information.

The most basic form of this is machine learning, which uses historical data to predict future outcomes. As the machine acquires more data, it becomes better at making predictions.

AI already driving marketing budgets, data-driven insights

Recent studies reveal the important role that AI plays in driving marketing budgets and business growth strategies. Marketers clearly believe that AI is a valuable tool: 72% of marketers surveyed in a PWC study view AI as a “business advantage.” By 2021, organizations are projected to spend $57 billion on AI platforms for marketing.

AI marketing
AI in Marketing

And organizations are already seeing the results of implementing AI: 3 of 4 companies using AI have reported a boost in sales of at least 10%. 75% of organizations in another study say AI has driven customer satisfaction by at least 10%.

In terms of how CMOs are currently implementing AI, another recent survey found that many are using it for content personalization (56.5%), predictive analytics (56.5%), and targeting decisions (49.6%).  But those are just a few of the ways AI can support marketing efforts today.

AI has 8 broad applications in marketing today

Marketers are accumulating data at an astonishing pace with the intention of harnessing it into better targeting. But sometimes the mere volume of data that organizations acquire makes it difficult for them to know how to make use of it. AI is incredibly helpful in this respect, as it enables real-time analysis of large volumes of data, automate tasks, and generate insight.

1. Market intelligence and insight:With the help of algorithms, machine learning enables in-depth analysis of complex data sets from data management platforms (DPMs), data warehouses, or other repositories, connecting the dots to support marketing intelligence and forecasting in a way that humans cannot.

2. Customer profiles and personas:Through the analysis of on-site interactions, purchasing history, referral sources and geo-specific behavior, AI can help brands form a 360-view of their customers and match them with personalized content and promotions.

3.Lead generation and sales:Machine learning and predictive analytics can help marketers automate the process of generating and scoring leads. They also help brands keep customers engaged through predicting turn: through analyzing users’ engagements with brands, they can tell when someone is about to drop off. Brands can then attempt to re-engage these users with notifications and emails.

AI Marketing
AI in Marketing

4. Media buying: AI automates the laborious process of media buying and ensuring that ads are seen by relevant audiences through programmatic advertising and optimization and measurement platforms. With almost no human input, AI helps marketers analyze, manage, and measure the performance of ad campaigns.

5. Customer experience: According to Gartner, 85% of customer service inquiries will be handled via AI by the end of 2020. AI is increasingly being implemented in the customer experience space to support improved call centers and automated customer service via chat bots and digital assistants.

6. User experience: AI helps marketers optimize user experience on websites through analyzing data about single users’ behavior to personalize content, promotions, and notifications. A study from Evergage found that 33% of marketers are using AI for more personalized website experiences, and that 63% of them noted increased conversion rates, while 61% assert that customer experiences have improved.

AI Marketing
AI Marketing

7. Natural language generation and content creation: There are a variety of applications for AI in the realm of content. Using simple rules and formats, AI-enabled tools and platforms can author content such as business reports, product descriptions, stock market reports, and sports recaps without human input. Through setting the rules and formats, marketers can dictate the tone and style that the content takes.

AI-enabled content platforms can also make suggestions about what kinds of content formats and topics a brand’s target audience is likely to engage with through tracking users’ online activity.

8. Chatbots: While chatbots technically fall under customer experience, they have changed the marketing world in such a way that they deserve their own dedicated text. AI-enabled bots are successfully delivering customer service for thousands of global brands through natural language processing and machine learning.

Natural language processing allows machines to interpret the meaning of written and spoken speech and respond accordingly, all without human intervention. The machine can track the effectiveness of its responses and adapt accordingly, improving as it has more conversations.

Marketers must self-educate before selecting vendors

Marketers considering ways to implement AI in their organization have to be careful when evaluating different products and platforms. Many use the term “AI” loosely, mislabeling tools that implement data processing and analytics as “AI.”  Smart organizations can bring in experts to educate and advise them as they consider the alternatives.

Ask questions about the data sets they use and pay attention to whether they have data scientists on staff. Request a demo and confirm what deliverables and KPIs will be included in their activities.

Make sure your data is clean and high-quality

 While AI might seem like magic, it still depends on effective human inputs: namely high-quality data that it can learn from. If marketers don’t format data in a way it can be processed, or you do not have the infrastructure to process it correctly, it will not produce an “intelligent” machine.

To this end, marketers must innovate and collect more annotated data that can be tagged to train AI systems. Measuring only clicks is not going to create a rich enough data set to use for impactful AI.

Remember the human touch

AI will be able to replace humans in many, but not all, of the brand interactions customers expect. Consumers are excited about AI – an Acquia study found that 53% of consumers say they are “looking forward to artificial intelligence making interacting with brands a better experience.” At the same time, the study found that 85% percent claim that “a human touch is needed, in addition to technology, for a positive customer experience.”

Marketers should only use AI where it will enhance customer experiences, and it turns out there are plenty of situations in which people prefer to speak to a human than a machine. 75% of the respondents to the Acquia survey agreed that “the problem with automated experiences – interacting with technology instead of a real human – with brands is they are too impersonal.”

The future of AI in marketing depends on smart investments  

Implemented correctly, AI will offer us tools that make our work better, easier, and more enjoyable. Marketers will be able to focus on the strategic, creative elements of their work and leave the tedious and time-consuming tasks to a well-trained machine.

All of this, though, depends on marketers educating themselves so that they can help their organizations invest in smart solutions. As AI evolves at a rapid pace, marketers will face increasing pressure to keep up.a

What: Meltwater’s Ana Hoyos, Latcom’s Valentin Bueno, and WeWork’s Ana Cristina Rivadeneyra discussed how they are using data and technology to build market share in Latin America at Portada Miami’s key insights panel: Marketing Tech in Latin America: The Opportunities Ahead.
Why it matters: Excellent data is essential for creating content that connects with consumers in LATAM, and brands shouldn’t shy away from partnering with technology providers to reach their goals in the region, according to speakers at participating in the panel on marketing technology in Latin America.

It’s “harder to get data in Latin America,” and even more difficult to build, according to Latcom CEO Valentin Bueno, a speaker at Portada Miami’s panel Marketing Tech in Latin America: The Opportunities Ahead. “We need to create our own data. The work is to build the data with the client. There is no one size fits all,” he told #portadaMIA attendees.

Using the right technology is also key, according to Ana Hoyos, Director of Meltwater Latin America, and also a speaker on the panel. She told attendees that brands shouldn’t be afraid of finding the right technology partners when marketing in the region.

You really need some sort of tool, and you need to use technology to help you leverage all of the data that is out there.

“There is a lot of data, so using the right technology and not being afraid to partner with the people that can give you the actionable insight,” is very important, Hoyos emphasized.

WeWork entered the region just two years ago, and panel speaker Ana Cristina Rivadeneyra, senior marketing lead at WeWork, said WeWork has developed its own listening tool to better understand WeWork’s customers in the market. The data gathered is used, in part, to determine the architecture and construction of WeWork’s work spaces in the region.

Partnering and Organization

Panel moderator Alejandro Clabiorne CEO of PHD Latam asked the panel participants to discuss their organizational approach to task of leveraging data and technology to reach consumers in the region.

“There are no barriers between tech and marketing,” at WeWork, Rivadeneyra said.

Meltwater places a lot of focus on AI, and works with companies that can help it “integrate data science into our daily operations,” said Hoyos. It’s important to educate customers who use Meltwater’s media monitoring and analysis services about the importance of data measurement and analytics, she said.

“Everyone needs to adapt. Everyone is on the boat,” so we want our clients to know “you don’t want to be left behind,” she told the #PortadaMIA attendees.

Latcom takes a partnership approach with its clients in the region to build data and systems than can guide its customers’ business decisions and planning, according to Bueno.

 

Technology and Data Insights

(L to R) Ana Cristina Rivadeneyra, Ana Hoyos, Valentin Bueno, and Alejandro Clabiorne.

When helping Microsoft launch out-of-home advertising, Latcom relied on technology to understand consumers’ behavior, Bueno said. After reaching a full understanding of the complex ecosystem of devices used by consumers in Latin America, content was tailored to fit those devices—which is often the mobile phone.

“Technology challenges everyone. We chose a complex task: how to use data to reach audiences that are difficult to reach,” Bueno explained.

Meltwater helps its customer Santander, the international banking brand, monitor its reputation in Latin America, said Hoyos.

“We create analytics that give them trends and insight. There is so much data. You really need some sort of tool, and you need to use technology to help you leverage all of the data that is out there,” Hoyos said.

Using the right technology and not being afraid to partner with the people that can give you actionable insight is very important.

“The most important thing for Santander is to understand the perception of its brand using data from traditional news and social channels,” Hoyos explained.

Meltwater uses AI and data science to track three million documents daily and organize the information to make sense out of it.

“What we have done is focus a lot on AI and companies that can help us integrate data science into our operations,” she said.

We are introducing a bi-weekly summary of the most exciting recent news in marketing technology and trends. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

Phrasee’s AI-powered Copywriting Tool Attracts $4M in New Funding

Investors will pour U.S. $4 million into the digital marketing software company Phrasee to power the expansion of its Artificial Intelligence tools that help brands like Domino’s and Virgin write better subject lines for emails. Brands also use Phrasee’s tools to write more effective Facebook and Instagram ads. The new funding will help Phrasee, based in London, to open offices in San Francisco.

Facebook is reportedly building a stand alone shopping app for Instagram, sources tell the media outlet The Verge. The app will allow Instagram users to use the app to buy goods from merchants they follow. Instagram is keeping mum about the new shopping platform. According to Facebook, there are 25 million businesses with accounts on Instagram.

Artificial Intelligence is rapidly changing how brands create content. The Tel Aviv firm Bidalgo has a new AI-powered tool that measures KPIs for the different elements of creative content, including words (messaging) and images (including video). MediaPost also reports that McCann Erikson Japan has launched the world’s first robotic creative director that analyzes key elements of past award-winning ads to then develop new ones.

The retail customer analytics firm Custora has won $13.75M in new financing for its software that uses Artificial Intelligence to help retailers segment and better understand their customers and as a result provide more personalized offers. Retailers also use Custora’s machine learning to analyze the impact of discounts and price points and forecast the lifetime value of each customer.

Investments in mobile advertising increased by 25% in the second quarter of this year compared to last, and more and more brands are choosing to place their ads within mobile apps, according to PubMatic’s Quarterly Mobile Index for 2018. In just the last year, spending on mobile video ads has increased by 239 percent, with a 688-percent year-over-year increase in advertising within mobile apps, the PubMatic release said.

The online flower delivery company Telaflora is using Artificial Intelligence to match offers to individual customers’ desires and preferences. Using AI tools from Bluecore and Custora, Teleflora succeeded in matching customer data with products to increase year-to-year sales by 50%, according to ClickZ.