On August 2, Infor launched its next generation of products for customer relationship management (CRM), which are built on its Interaction Advisor that in May I called “its CEM surprise.” At the time it was clear that Interaction Advisor was a platform on which Infor could build a series of innovative products. I didn’t expect the first of them to be just around the corner.
Central to the announcement is a new range of Epiphany Advisor products that are or will be built around Interaction Advisor. The Advisor engine will be the core of the Infor CRM Epiphany Suite and provide the intelligence behind a number of new offerings focused on a business challenge, vertical or role specialization.
The first out of the blocks is E-mail Advisor. Infor understands the key challenge of using e-mail for marketing campaigns: You and I, the consumers of e-mail, have become distrustful of e-mail and are prone to dumping unsolicited messages into our deleted items folder without looking at them. This practice costs companies large amounts of effort and money as they try to update their process to make e-mail more relevant to each recipient. They choose candidates for a campaign very carefully, using segmentation and rules, a template designed to be more attractive, and personalization of the messages by adding customer-specific information at the final point of creation. And then we don’t even open them!
Using E-mail Advisor, companies can simplify the process of deciding which candidates to include in a campaign. Rather than creating a template for the e-mail, they create an empty framework that is not actually populated until the recipient opens the message. In effect, all candidates are sent an empty e-mail. Then comes the advance in functionality: When the recipient opens the e-mail, it automatically sends a message to E-mail Advisor, which looks at the latest profile of the customer and based on rules decides what content to fill the framework with. This is loaded in real time into the e-mail so the recipient sees not just a personalized message but one that is highly visual, is based on the latest information the company has about him or her and contains the most up-to-date information the company can provide. For example, the campaign might be a special offer that is conditional on the customer’s financial ranking. The framework would fix the style of the e-mail, but the final content would be based on the customer’s status at the time the person opens it; the offer also could be dependent on how many previous customers had taken up an early offer. Infor claims that in trials the notification back to E-mail Advisor and the download of content take place in milliseconds so recipients see no delay as they open the e-mail.
The premise is that the content will be so relevant to the recipient that far more people will open the e-mail and actually take up the offers. Again the vendor says this has proved to be the case in trials, but the real test will come as Infor’s customers send out campaigns to consumers who haven’t even set the preview function in their e-mail client and so don’t see that the e-mail is so relevant to them.
For me, two key components of good customer experiences are personalization and responses within context. This innovation from Infor should help companies achieve both objectives. Does your company use e-mail marketing campaigns? If so, how successful are they? Do you think that this innovation could help increase your success rates?
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director