Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Smarter Digital Marketing With Smartify's Carla Bourque
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
How can marketers make better decisions and get better results from their online marketing? Pasadena-based Smartify (www.getsmartify.com)'s CEO, Carla Bourque, recently talked to us about the company's online marketing platform, and how it differentiates itself from a lot of other competitors in the market.
What is Smartify?
Carla Bourque: Smartify has been based in Pasadena for the past three and a half years. We are the only, data-driven incentive platform that helps marketers optimize their audience participation across all channels. Essentially, we align relevant actions with incentives to address marketing goals. Our clients are retail, technology, consumer product goods, and other companies who are trying to address their challenges with a very complex, digital marketing mix they face every day. Smartify's software-as-a-service platform automates all aspects of their digital marketing, across their channels, including mobile, social, email, and web. We can help brands achieve, on average, conversions that are 10 times higher than the industry.
What's your background, and how did you get into this?
Carla Bourque: My background is in marketing analytics. As you might imagine, I started as a brand manager in the consumer product goods market. I was at PowerBar, the energy bar company which was acquired by Nestle, and then I went on to marketing analytics companies, including Nielsen Catalina, and most recently Buddy Media, which was acquired by Salesforce. My focus is on innovative technology, connecting brands to their audience, wherever they may be. That's what I get excited about. It's a perfect opportunity for data geeks in marketing and the business side to get information on customers in real time.
How'd you end up in Pasadena?
Carla Bourque: The company has been based here since day one. Our founders and founding team, our engineers, client services, and marketing are all based here. We're also part of Innovate Pasadena, and helping to drive the growth of technology in digital marketing here. We have some great neighbors in the area, and it's a really exciting time to be here. Our business has grown 400 percent year over year, and we've been able to attract investors both from Northern California as well as Silicon Beach. We're heading into our Series B round of funding, and we're growing quickly. We now have 20 employees here, as well as others in the Bay Area and on the East Coast. We're growing and scaling to meet the demands of the market.
There are an awful lots of companies in online marketing, what's special about what you do and how do you differentiate yourself?
Carla Bourque: That's a great question. We know there are lots of people in this space, and we partner with lots of people. There are companies much bigger than Smartify trying to solve the challenge of how to create a unified database of customers. That's been a challenge of marketing agencies since the beginning of time. Where Smartify plays, is at the intersection of data, analytics, ad tech, and digital marketing. Brands across all categories are launching incentives and promotional marketing every day, every hour, every week, every month. That promotional spending is growing exponentially. How Smartify's platform is unique, is that we convert at a higher rate, because we deliver relevant information to targets with appropriate actions. Essentially, consumers are opting into Smartify's platform. That's unlike when users interact with brands on Facebook, where they never get access to that data.
With Smartify, users opt in and self report data, providing authenticity of that data, granularity, and relevancy, which allows us to be even more effective. We're data driven, so over time, we can leverage all of that data over time to provide relevant incentives linked to relevant actions. It's an iterative process. The complexity of the algorithm is that it performs better over time. We have a robust history of data on two million unique provides, from over 900 promotions over the last two years. From a granular standpoint, we collect over 150 data points for each individual, which they willingly provide, and brands have access to a dynamic profile database they can't get anywhere else. It's unique in that we can integrate that into CRM systems, email systems, point-of-sale. A Nielsen or IBM might struggle to identify an individual beyond their basic geographic data, and maybe they might have a unique ID or zip code, but we understand things to a level that we know you are running a Macintosh, in Bellevue Washington, that you've participated in ten promotions for JC Penney, Nestle, and Apple; we know that you're sharing items on Facebook, that you have Twitter followers, and your age, email, phone, number, birthday, and mobile provider. That all goes directly from Smartify into your business systems. That's the way we're differentiated, quite significantly.
Who are the marketers who are most successful using this kind of data?
Carla Bourque: We do a lot of thinking about this. Brands are still struggling with what data matters. They are generating lots of data, but it's not about big data. That's too big for 95 percent of the marketers out there. It's about focusing on the relevant data the right time. It's figuring out how to create content in an environment and context that is relevant for the marketer. If you see what Facebook does with its pages, they advise brands that brands should invest more in paid media in order to drive traffic to their content. What Facebook is saying, is Facebook alone is not going to do it, a brand must own the relationship and make the paid media investment, to drive awareness and acquisition of customers. You can't do that without data, and that's where Smartify provides a foundation for that data to provide a truly unified data set.