Since being founded in 2012, Bounce Exchange has swiftly grown to become a leader in cloud-based behavioral marketing and analytics software.
Their proprietary technology has been adopted by marketers looking to shift their strategy, moving away from audience segmentation and fragmented targeting to building more complete profiles of their consumers. Based on these robust profiles, marketers can execute direct marketing efforts and curated personal experiences rooted in holistic behavioral patterns, instead of focusing on very nuanced lifestyles and interests.
In August of 2016, Inc. named BounceX the fastest growing software company in the United States, ranking the startup seventh overall on the Inc. 5000. In just three years, the company experienced an astonishing 14,500% spike in revenue. Their technology currently powers thousands of digital properties, trusted by global giants such as Lufthansa, Sears, Uniqlo, Hearst Properties and Comcast.
I spoke with Bounce Exchange Co-Founder Ryan Urban about emerging trends, new methods for tracking consumer behavior and the future of digital marketing in 2018.
Digital marketing is a space that is changing so rapidly — What trends do you think brands must adopt to survive in today’s climate?
Ryan Urban: The brands that will survive and thrive in 2018 will begin using minimalist marketing strategies.If they don’t want to fatigue their email lists and piss off their customers, everything that marketers do moving forward must be relevant, enjoyable and non-intrusive. Minimalist marketing means taking the less is more approach. If you enjoy your marketing, everyone else will, too.
With media-tech giants like Facebook becoming bigger focal points for brands to engage consumers — What should marketers be thinking about amidst this shift?
Ryan Urban: Web push will become the lynchpin of innovative brands. The classic revenue channels, like Google and Facebook, are fatiguing, and even as they flatline, their prices are skyrocketing. Brands need a new way to reach their consumers and boost their profits. In 2018, this will be scalable push. The more straightforward interface and shorter content needed for push marketing will allow more segmentation, as well as more personal, relevant and rapid messaging. But, marketers also have to be careful. With easier permanent opt-out options, if they blast users with push ads the way they once did with email, they’ll ruin the channel for themselves before they even really get started.
As fingerprint and facial recognition are more integrated into the function of mobile devices — How do you see this new tech shaping how consumers experience ads and make purchases?
Ryan Urban: In 2018, I think five-second checkout processes will become mainstream. Whether it be a four-digit code or a fingerprint-based purchase, brands will do whatever they can to identify someone as quickly as possible, and then use that identity to make paying as easy as possible. As a brand, you already know who your best customers are. But, marketing to them over and over isn’t likely to make them even better customers; they’re already there. Instead, brands will likely begin to use lookalike prospecting, or looking at your best customers and finding other people who act and behave like them. You have a general idea of what they like and what kind of marketing might work best for them. Then, you can use this extrapolated data to reach out to those people and get them to come to your site.
Describe the thinking behind what you’ve created with BounceX and how does it align with where the industry is heading?
Ryan Urban: BounceX is all about People-Based Marketing (PBM). People-based marketing is marketing to and identifying actual people, not cookies. The best way to identify your audience is when they are logged-in; however, only about two percent of site visitors do this for e-commerce. We’ve created a proprietary identification engine that is able to identify users even in a non-logged in state. With that, brands can market to consumers across all their devices and sessions — an ability that can’t be overlooked as mobile purchasing and browsing skyrockets. If brands know who is on their site at all times, they can track digital body language such as clicks, hovers, zooms, and highlights to curate individual experiences across all moments and devices. This offers a seamless conversion journey. This allows our clients to get exponential returns, and it’s also a major stepping stone in the industry.
How does this technology make brands smarter marketers and what are the keys to effectively reaching today’s digital consumer?
Ryan Urban: This technology advances the industry in three ways:
1. Helping Clients Understand Their Audience On All Devices
For many, cookie marketing is still the gold standard of identification. But, in the age of personalization, it’s time to move away from the half-baked tool. Brands must understand how to market to actual humans, not just their trail of computer crumbs. The first step in executing a PBM campaign is getting users to self-identify. Well-timed email capture techniques with relevant messaging can help you identify more than half of your traffic. Then, brands can spend ad dollars more efficiently, collate a smart view of your customer and track them across their smartphone, computer, tablet and any other device they may use — an imperative step as 40 percent of consumers use more than one device in the conversion process.
2. Humanizing Brands To Connect With Real People
A crucial part of an excellent PBM strategy is understanding intent through digital body language — the same way a person’s body language dictates their interest while shopping at a brick and mortar — and examining how they react to different kinds of products and messaging. Have they zoomed in on certain products? Checked out sizes and colors? Highlighted a product name to comparison shop? These all indicate intent to purchase or abandon the site, and they all represent a good reason to engage with this consumer.
3. Sending The Right Messages At The Right Time
To successfully execute email campaigns, marketers must connect each visitor’s digital behavior across devices in real time. When a user visits a category or a product page, the email they receive should reflect that. Whether they add an item to their cart, consume a specific piece of content or make a purchase — all of those behaviors demand separate, uniquely designed emails. The unspoken truth is that nobody wants impersonal contact, no matter the format. We all want to feel special, unique and cared for. Behavioral, people-based marketing does just that. As we move into this user-centric marketing ecosystem, everything that brands do must start and end with the user in mind or they must be prepared to face significant losses.
With all of the new tech and trends emerging — How do you see the digital marketing landscape evolving in the next 3-5 years?
Ryan Urban: Some of the biggest changes that will happen in the next five or so years will be extensions of things I’ve already touched on. Web push, which is really in its infancy now, will be ubiquitous. Most popular marketing strategies already have diminishing returns because consumers are desensitized to them. With push notifications, though, we’ve been trained to immediately respond. Whether it be Slack, a text, Uber or food delivery, we automatically click. I believe this new marketing frontier will become the highest-impact real estate. Minimalist marketing will no longer be one type of marketing; it will be the only type of marketing. If you’re not treating your consumers like the individuals that they are, you won’t be able to reach them successfully. PBM will be the main driver of this in years to come. Still one of the largest ad formats, television, has viewers’ undivided attention and large, beautifully designed real estate. At the moment, however, TV advertising is still contextual rather than people-based. You may be watching Monday Night Football at the time, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the market for new gear. With the move from cable to streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, I’m sure that PBM will start making its way to TV.