28 Jan 2024 » MSA
Most digital marketing initiatives involve one or more of the following channels: email, SMS, push notifications, mobile app, or web. I would call them traditional channels, as they are what we are most used to. It is no coincidence that Adobe Experience Cloud tools cater mainly to them. However, there are other channels that, while more niche or less popular, should also be explored. There may be opportunities in them that you may have not thought about.
In this post, I will refer to channel for everything after the Adobe tool generating the offer or segmentation. I know this is an oversimplification. There are many systems beyond the channel itself, which are responsible for showing the message to the customer. However, since each channel will be different in terms of systems and technology, I will just refer to the channel in general.
If, after reading this post, you have other examples of channels that can be categorized as non-traditional, let me know in the comments.
Point of sale
I am currently working on a POC where the destination of the campaign is the point of sales (POS) system of a major retailer in the USA. I think this is the first time I have encountered this situation, but it makes a lot of sense. Think about the process:
- A customer goes to the cash register. It can be either at a self-checkout or with an attendant.
- Your products are scanned.
- You scan, type, or swipe your loyalty card or any identification linked to it.
At this moment in time, the cash register has a significant amount of information about you: the products you are purchasing, the total amount, and, most importantly, a unique identifier. Why not use this information to show a personalized message or an offer?
The next channel that I will mention is voice assistants. I am referring to Cortana, Bixby, Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri… I have never used them, as I feel very awkward talking to a machine, but I know that many people love them. This channel was used by one of the customers I had a few years ago. I was not heavily involved but, as an architect, I had to review the architecture of the solution.
This case is even better than the previous one, as the customer is explicitly requesting something directly from your company. Besides, these assistants require that you are logged in, so you know the identity of the person. So, given that the customer is expecting a response from you, you can modulate the message based on various parameters. I have used the word modulate as it may not always be a good idea to send a marketing message in the response, but you can definitely personalize the message to improve the perception of your company.
We have all encountered the case that, when we call the customer service number of a company, the operator tries to sell or recommend us something: an upgrade, a companion product, a buy-one-get-one free or half-price offer… If done correctly, it is a no-brainer.
Think about it. A customer has made a call, which means he or she is interested in a company. If the customer’s phone number is already registered, the company knows immediately who the customer is. Otherwise, during the conversation with the operator, the customer will likely provide personal details. The customer service software, with this information, can show a message to the operator, who can then relay it to the customer. This is what we did for a bank a few years ago.
This is the oldest of the channels. If you have worked with Adobe Campaign Classic, you have very likely implemented this channel. If you are not familiar with it, it is just a printed personalized message sent in an envelope to your address using a postal service.
The important word in the previous paragraph is personalized. Not only you should start the letter with the name of the recipient, but you should also include specific wording/images/offers that you hope will resonate with your customer.
To be honest I am not sure if this can be considered an individual channel, as they are usually linked to a mobile device. I have not seen either a campaign specific to these devices. However, I am including it here in case someone finds an interesting use case.
Now that I have listed these channels, you may be wondering what they have to do with Adobe technology. As I said at the beginning, these are not channels that you usually hear in connection with the Adobe Experience Cloud. However, there are ways that you can hook them to the Adobe tools.
Although you may think of Adobe Target as a tool only for Web or Apps, it is very capable with many of the channels above. You will need to create the activities using the Forms-Based Experience Composer and, optionally, Adobe Target Offers. Adobe Target only supports HTML/XML and JSON offers, so you may need to adapt them to the formats that the channel supports.
Adobe Target works in pull mode, which means that the channel needs to make a call in real time whenever it needs content. Adobe Target does not have batch capabilities. These calls are based on the Delivery API.
The last piece of the puzzle is the identification. Depending on your Adobe Target implementation, you will use
For the example I gave earlier for voice assistants, this is how we did it.
Adobe Campaign Classic
Although I believe Adobe Campaign Classic (ACC) supports real-time calls, it was designed to work mainly in push/batch mode.
ACC has native support for direct mail as a channel. For the rest of the channels, you will have to use its workflow capabilities by combining a targeting activity and a data extraction (file) action activity. Obviously, this output file needs to be in the format and location supported by the channel.
I do not have any particular example for ACC, but in some of my projects, the above setup has been used.
If you have Adobe Experience Platform (AEP), you most likely also have the Real-Time Customer Data Platform (RTCDP) SKU, which allows you to send audiences to external destinations. There are real-time (aka streaming) and batch destinations available.
Adobe Experience Platform
In this sub-section, I am referring to the core capabilities of AEP.
- For real-time use cases, the channel can make calls to the Entities endpoint of the Real-Time Customer Profile API. My main word of caution here is to check your contractual limitations for this API. We used this approach in the call center use case mentioned earlier.
- For batch use cases, you can use the Data Access API. You will need to create an ETL to interact with this API, extract the data in XDM format, convert it to your channel’s format, and send it to the channel.
Adobe Journey Optimizer
If you have Adobe Journey Optimizer (AJO), you can also use it to send marketing messages to non-traditional channels.
- With Offer Decisioning Engine (ODE) you have the offer delivery API. I personally think that this is the most powerful option and the one that makes more sense. Similar to Adobe Target, the channel will have to make calls to this API to get the best offer for the customer. As you can see, this is a pull approach.
- Another option is to use AJO Custom Actions in journeys. These are REST calls done at any point in an AJO journey.
While this post was only a summary of the personalization activities that you can take in non-traditional channels, you can (should?) also track the interactions. Adobe Analytics has the Data Insertion API and AEP has the Edge Network Server API. Again, some software will have to make calls to these APIs following customer interactions.
Last, but not least, comes consent. Everything you do with your customer in terms of digital marketing must be governed by consent. Each channel is different and the laws change from country to country, so it will be impossible to describe here all options. This is just a reminder that you must also include consent in your implementation to support any non-traditional channel.