Automated Campaigns generates multi-touch campaigns tailored to your audience. Here's a peek into our product development process and what we learned along the way.
This post is part of our series exploring how Attentive is building AI and how marketers can use this technology to thrive in a new world. Missed our other posts? Check out how we built out our copywriting assistant, or dive into some of the most common questions we get about Attentive AI™.
If you're a marketer, chances are you spend a lot of time coming up with campaign ideas and then putting them into action. You're doing everything from writing the copy for email and SMS, to figuring out the design elements and audience segments, to actually scheduling and sending messages.
Luckily, platform-native AI tools can automate important, but time-consuming tasks, like planning and sending campaigns, so you can focus on more complex work, like higher-level strategies that impact your bottom line.
We built an AI tool that does exactly that. Automated Campaigns sets and schedules your marketing calendar for you, allowing you to do less manual work while driving the same—or even better—results.
We asked Rachel D'Agostino, Group Product Manager, Automation at Attentive, to take us through the product development process, plus what we've learned along the way, how we plan to apply those learnings going forward, and more.
How do you think about the product development process? What did the process look like for Automated Campaigns?
I like to think of the product development process as a means of giving customers super powers. You do that by building relationships with your everyday users, listening to them, and then coming up with ways to make their lives easier. Product development is an ever-changing process that can take different forms depending on the context, so it’s important to go into it with an open mind.
When you’re working on a product that’s very conceptual, for example, it can be hard to envision what's actually going to work. In those cases, it’s beneficial to get something tangible in your customers’ hands sooner, to see how they use it and then figure out the best way to optimize it for their experience.
That's how we approached developing Automated Campaigns. Our goal was to move quickly, which sometimes meant having to try a few different things before getting the functionality just right. In our testing environment, we were able to learn quickly and make improvements on the fly.
By making Automated Campaigns available to beta users, our AI could also learn faster and, as a result, start giving increasingly better recommendations as we scaled.
How does the Automated Campaigns feature work? What’s the major benefit for marketers?
Automated Campaigns is a powerful tool that helps marketers streamline the process of planning, building, testing, and sending SMS campaigns. That includes everything from content creation to segmenting to sequencing.
It leverages the trillions of data elements to identify the best possible campaign strategy for a brand. It's really designed to save marketers time so they can focus on other more strategic and creative tasks.
Now, when a marketer goes into our platform to create an SMS campaign, instead of starting with a blank slate—which can be really daunting—they’re starting with a trusted framework. We’re essentially giving them a foundation to optimize for performance and driving revenue, based on our knowledge and insights.
What’s great about Automated Campaigns is that it’s completely customizable. You can use it to plan out and schedule your holiday marketing calendar in advance, with the option to edit the content as you see fit. Or, you can use the recommendations it provides to inspire internal conversations around if it makes sense to send a campaign for a certain holiday.
Beyond holidays, we’ve also incorporated new customer engagement points to highlight personalized product recommendations and best-selling products, which can seamlessly fill in any sending gaps to stay connected with subscribers. Customers also have the option to do interactive A/B testing within the tool, to develop a strategy for using AI that works for their unique brand and processes.
How do these benefits differ, if at all, for marketers on larger vs. smaller teams?
Being able to create and send effective campaigns with less effort is crucial for marketers on smaller teams, where it’s not uncommon for someone to be a one-person show.
In a lot of cases, these marketers just don't have the bandwidth to manage every single detail of campaign planning, especially compared to the experience of marketers on larger teams with more dedicated resources. They also might not have as much data available to figure out what the right messages to send are and when. That’s where a tool like Automated Campaigns really comes in handy.
One challenge that both large and small marketing teams have is figuring out the right segmentation strategy. Automated Campaigns can provide any marketer with insights into who they should be targeting to not only drive the best results, but also maximize budget.
Let's talk about the user experience on our platform. What steps are you taking to make sure the tool is user-friendly and easy for marketers to adopt?
This is an ongoing process, but we started by launching Automated Campaigns with a small group of beta users to see how they adopted it. We've been expanding ever since to better understand how to introduce the tool into marketers' workflows.
What we've found so far is that capturing someone's attention when they're actually creating and scheduling campaigns is key. Our customers go into our platform with intention, so Automated Campaigns needs to slot into their current process.
Ultimately, we want to stay close to our customers and provide them with ideas and feedback to get the most out of the tool. We proactively share useful information with customers who have Automated Campaigns turned on, and we conduct regular user interviews to get their input and make adjustments to the UI accordingly.
Was there anything that surprised you while developing Automated Campaigns?
If you think back to even just five or six years ago, if you had a conversation about AI, it was this cool concept, but nobody really knew what it would look like in different contexts beyond home assistants and sci-fi movies. Even working in tech, specifically on machine learning products, the cycles were typically longer to allow for the models to be trained and refined, and they were fairly cost prohibitive.
I was pleasantly surprised by how rapidly we could integrate machine learning and AI into our product development. We found that we could apply the same agile and iterative cycles that we use for software development, which was quite remarkable. Now, it seems AI has become a much more accessible concept and technology.
On the product and consumer side, it's been fascinating to see how marketers are embracing the power of AI—and, specifically, Attentive AI. Not to mention the internal dialogues they're having with their teams and companies as a result of having this kind of technology at their fingertips.
It’s been energizing to see the progress we've made in the last six months, and we’re looking forward to seeing how far we can take it in the next six months and beyond.
What kind of results are our beta users seeing from testing and experimenting with the tool?
Our beta users have had great results. One customer A/B tested Automated Campaigns for a single holiday and saw a significant increase in conversion rate compared to their existing strategy.
That was a big "aha" moment for us. We knew Automated Campaigns could make an impact based on our data, but it was the first time we'd done a test like that. Seeing those results was confirmation that we were heading in the right direction.
As we've done more testing, and as more customers have adopted the tool, we've consistently seen an increase in ROI.
What does the future of Automated Campaigns look like? What enhancements or developments are in the pipeline?
We're constantly looking at ways to improve Automated Campaigns to better serve both marketers and consumers. On the consumer side, that means optimizing the lifecycle journey to make sure shoppers are supported every step of the way. How can we have those continuous engagement points, but make sure it's balanced so the consumer doesn't get overwhelmed?
On the marketer side, we'll continue to improve all aspects of campaign creation, including segmentation, content recommendations, product imagery, and more. As mentioned earlier, we recently released a new feature of Automated Campaigns that generates smart product recommendations for each subscriber. We're also exploring what we can do with discounts and coupons to help brands put the right offer strategy out there to convert more customers.
Beyond that, we're always collecting more data to continually inform our models and improve Attentive AI. We're confident these developments will provide insights to help marketers with their strategies as well as with their decision-making.
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