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Growth Marketing

Captivate Your Customers with Personalized Insights and Engagement

I’ve worked with Adobe marketing technology for nearly two decades. During that time, I learned a lot about best practices in implementation, time-to-value, and ROI. I’m excited to share many of those learnings with you in this recent webinar in collaboration with our partners at Adobe.

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In this discussion, I share the virtual stage with Billie Loewen, WillowTree Group VP of Growth, Analytics, and Optimization. Billie is an expert in a variety of MarTech fields, particularly customer engagement, CRM, and, of course, analytics. Joining Billie and me are two more leaders in WillowTree’s Adobe Experience Cloud practice: Solutions Architect Wesley Brett and Senior Solutions Architect Judge DiCesaro.

Together, we demo the latest and greatest in Adobe customer journey management and real-time personalization — this time, through two end-to-end user journeys on our fictionalized railway company: “Ace Express.”

The demo showcases how Adobe Experience Platform and Adobe Journey Optimizer drive:

  • More robust cross-channel — or even cross-system — engagement with personalized offers
  • Decision management and audience segmentation based on high-value attributes like offer engagement and lifetime value
  • Marketing returns in a matter of days or weeks — rather than months

Our teams know you don’t have to compromise speed to build quality customer experiences. WillowTree’s Adobe experts are imagining stronger CX — perhaps more importantly, we’re building it.

Let’s explore how your organization can leverage these tools and technologies to drive business rewards.

Table of Contents
Mike Colombo

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Captivate Your Customers with Personalized Insights and Engagement

Mike Colombo [00:01:50] Hi, everybody. Welcome to our webinar. We’re super excited to have you all here. I'm Mike Colombo. I'm the Chief Marketing Services Officer for WillowTree. My team is responsible for the strategy, design, implementation, and execution on loyalty and marketing platforms. One of those platforms that we a lot of work on is the Adobe platform. I've worked with Adobe technology and with Adobe teams for the better part of 20 years, and I’ve a lot in terms of the best ways to implement and get value out of the Adobe platform. So, I’m excited to be here today with you all. I’m joined by my partner in all things marketing, Billie Loewen. I'll turn it over to Billie to introduce herself as well.

Billie Loewen [00:03:46] Thanks, Mike. As Mike mentioned, I’m Billie Loewen and I'm a Group VP at Willow Tree. Mike and I lead our Marketing Services practice together, which heavily revolves around Adobe technology and the ways that you can leverage that technology to drive personalization. I am personally more of a customer engagement expert. I work across all components of MarTech, but particularly in CRM and our analytics platforms to better understand and inform our clients’ digital strategy. So I’m very excited for this topic today. We are, of course, going to focus on personalization and why personalization is such an important driver of both business outcomes and delightful customer experiences. I think it is no surprise that figuring out how to remain relevant to individual customers, and how to reinforce what customers have done with your brand in the past, is just a single pillar that brands have to get right today. It's no longer a nice add-on to drive business outcomes. It's just critical table stakes. We think a lot about this.

I think a lot, in particular, about a conversation that I had with the Chief Technology and Innovation officer of one of our clients, Brightline Trains. Brightline is building a private train route in southern Florida at the moment, and then expanding to the West Coast.  When you think about a train journey and the customer experience that goes along with it, there's huge demand to ensure that when a customer shows up on your website or in your app and they're trying to purchase tickets, that you remember — what did they search for? What route are they hoping to book, and at what times? If they drop out of that flow, how can you get them back in? But, remaining conscientious of the choices for search that they previously made, and as they purchase that ticket and they prepare to go to the train station and board their train… How do you make that experience easier and more seamless for them? How do you bring in elegant upsells along the way, based on what type of ticket they might have purchased, or what their propensity for spend is? All of those things are critical for personalization. It's also critical to have the right tech in place to empower them. Mike, I'm curious what else comes to mind for you when you think about the power of personalization, as well as the power of the Adobe stack?

Mike Colombo [00:06:03] It’s a super exciting time in the space. Personalization has been a topic for the better part of my career. Marketers have been talking about personalization since direct mail, and in print advertising. But the tools that we have available today are really amazing. We’re about to head into a new era with this, too, as we start to introduce AI. It’s kind of been a part of the personalization stack and talk for a very long time. But, we're getting to a new space with that, as well. What we have as tools to work with as marketers is… It's never been like this before. That’s a lot of what we want to show you today.

With the demo, we brought some members of our team, some of the solution leaders and solution architects on the team, Wesley Brett and Judge DiCesaro, who both are certified on the Adobe platform. They've worked with many clients and customers on this platform. We want to take you through the nuts and bolts and what's really state of the art from a functional features and functionality perspective. So they put together a demo. Somewhat coincidentally, it's a fake train company. It's called “Ace Express” and we'll take you through really two different, customer journeys and talk about how we can be smarter and take advantage of these world-class tools that we have in the Adobe stack to really execute on this next phase of what's latest and greatest in personalization from Adobe. So with that, I'll hand it over to the two of them, Wesley and Judge to talk through what that could look like from an Adobe perspective.

Judge DiCesaro [00:07:55] So we're going to start our journey on the web, in the scenario where the search has been made and our user Jane Smith is going to buy a ticket. Now, she's got some history with this brand. Let's say she's a medium lifetime value, but we also know something else about Jane. With the Adobe Experience Platform, we know that she doesn't have the app. So we want to incentivize her to get the app, because then we can go down the push notification path, and there are ordering features in the app. There are a lot of revenue opportunities in the app. So she checks out on the website for this ticket. And we're going to use offer decisioning to put that offer to upgrade to first class for free for downloading the app into the transactional email which just came in. Your travel is confirmed. There's our ticket. Dear Jane, we're delighted… And here's our offer. Download the app and we'll upgrade you to first class for free. We've done this journey for our other users, and we just want to show the difference. John has already checked out, and he's in a different category. He's already got the app. But he doesn't have push notifications enabled. To incentivize John to get push notifications, we're able to use the back office integration with Adobe Journey Optimizer to trigger something like a POS, to buy him a drink, so we can offer him something to enable push notifications.

Now, let's move to the mobile app. We'll take a look at what these offers or the confirmation of the acceptance of these offers look like in the app. Now that we've seen the email offers for both John and Jane, let's take a look at what they're going to see when they go to the app. Remember we offered Jane an upgrade to first class. When she logs in to the app, she is going to see a confirmation that she's been upgraded. Let’s take a look at what John will see when he logged in. Now, I'm going to open the app again and re-log in as John. Remember, John is our high lifetime value customer. We want him to enable push notifications, and we're incentivizing him with an offer for a free drink while he's on the train. And there's a new action associated with this link, so we're going to click on this. It’s going to send us to the settings to change the notifications. So once we enable notifications and we go back to the app, the app is going to communicate again with Adobe Journey Optimizer after it pulls the phone to see if we've changed the notification settings. We’ll see that that offer change to a confirmation that we've changed the settings. Now, Wesley is going to walk us through how all of this journey was built, and how we designed this journey, and executed it on the Adobe Experience Platform.

Wesley Brett [00:10:54] Thank you, Judge. Hopefully that user experience makes sense for everyone. In order to give a better overview of what was going on there, I’ve got a user journey in front of us that should give a better understanding what's going on from a higher level. We had our two customers here, with John and Jane. I've got the UX for them at the top here. Then below this, we've got the offer decision. That is happening in AEP. So Jane's journey, as we just saw, started on the website. She did a web booking and then she got a confirmation email. We skipped John's booking for the second demo, but John would have also gotten a confirmation email. Now within that email, inside AEP, we have a bunch of offer decisioning happening in order to present two different offers to the two different customers.

But for the email itself, it's only using one decision block. So that enables the email builds to be a lot more fluid. In our case here, the offer was a free drink for John and a free, first-class upgrade for Jane. We had a bunch of audience definitions happening based on this. John, in order to qualify for that free drink, he needed to be a high-value customer, and not have push notifications enabled on the app, and have a recent ticket purchase. Same for Jane: recent ticket purchase. This being second-class and the lifetime value of that customer group was medium, and that customer does not have that. Therefore, we wanted to send them a message to say, “download the app and we'll give you first-class.” Once the emails have gone out, there are two different journeys happening. John was going to the app and enabling notifications. John continues to get that free drink offer because he hasn't yet enabled push notifications. He continues to get a free drink offer for downloading the app. Once he's updated his notifications, then he gets a new offer saying to enjoy this drink. Likewise for Jane. As soon as she downloads the app, she has automatically qualified for the first-class upgrade. So once she hits the app, we're changing our offer from upgrade to first-class to enjoy your first-class.

All the while this is happening, Adobe Journey Optimizer is handling back-end and back office systems. For example, when Jane accepts first-class, Adobe Journey Optimizer sends an event to the booking system in order to upgrade her ticket to first-class. Likewise for John, when he enables push notifications, Adobe Journey Optimizer is sending an event to the POS system in order to have his drink ready for him when he's on the train.

Let’s give a little bit of a walk-through of the platform in order to allow this all to make sense a little bit. So when Jane was on the website, after you’ve done a confirmation, we're sending a data layer of that from Adobe Experience Manager to the data layer, which then gets picked up by Adobe Data Collection. That gets taken into Adobe Experience Platform. From there, it's going into a bunch of data sets that need to conform to schemas. This is what's billed in the profile for Jane Doe.

Here, we have Jane's profile. We have her linked identities here in the ECID that she was using on web, as well as the email that she used to sign up, and a CRM ID that was associated to her past behavior. This was a saved copy of Jane's profile. After we had the walk-through carried out by Judge, Jane's profile was being updated. You can see here we've got one ECID, email, and CRM as the identities. Once she'd downloaded the app, we're now getting a new ECID that is representative of her being on the app. We’re also getting a device token. Now, that device token can be used for later campaigns for push notifications in this example, that she's opted in to receive, in terms of progressive profiling again.

Jane, before this journey started, was a medium lifetime customer — the key audience we had built for her. Then, once the journey completed, we can now see that she's part of the app audience and the mobile content audience.

Likewise for John: this is John's profile at the end of the journey. Again, we can see the two ECIDs, device token, nicely over here in the channel preferences. This is all within that centralized profile. We can see John is enabled for push. Again, John’s audiences… We have the high-value audience. Take note of that, because we're going to be using that later on for the offer decision in.

We’ve also got a ton of events here coming from the web, email, as well as the app. One example event would have been the ticket purchase. Another thing we want to take note of here is the current price of John's ticket purchase. So John's ticket purchase might have been $50. For our offer decisioning, we're using a bunch of audiences and some rules. The core audience that we've built for John, is this high lifetime value. Then, we can see in the sample profiles that John's there, amongst three others.

Now, we're going to go into the audience build of Adobe Experience Platform. When we go to build this audience, we're grabbing price from the event attributes: this current price here. Drag that over so you can see current price. We’re running aggregation on this. In the last three months of any ticket purchases, if the price is more than $500, then they fall into the high-value customer. These Adobe Experience Platform audiences are used in decision management and forms of a role. When we are presenting an offer to a customer, we first need to build a set of rules. The rules are a combination of audiences, as well as events and profile attributes. For John, it was high value. He didn't have mobile consent recently done at the time of ticket purchase. If that's the case, then he'd be eligible for the offer that was a free drink.

But we don't stop there with Adobe Experience Platform, because what we're trying to do is build up an offer bank that can be used for all channels. For the given offer, free drink, we have two different representations. Then it's trying to simplify this so it makes a bit more sense. John has two representations for free drink. One is for email. We then build decisions from that. They would have a decision endpoint for email and decision endpoint for app. Now, I know this seems a little bit confusing because one minute the app and emails are here, and then they're dropping down vertically. But the reason we do that is because the email decision will match up all email offers into one collection. Likewise for the app, any app offers are then batched up into that one decision.

When the app and email channels are calling in-app offers, they only call in one endpoint. The app and the email don't need to worry about any of the selection logic, the offer content, or the offer rules. It's all handled in-app, and the local channels are just hitting a single endpoint that we send an identity over. The app would send the device token that we saw previously to app, and then app will send back the desired offer for that user.

This is how we're managing to get off a decision. At scale, let's jump into how these rules are built. Then,  I'm going to show you some offers and the representations for those offers. After that, I'm going to finish with this decision endpoints and how that's built in the email journey.

First of all, we need to build a rule for the free drink within the decision management. So under components, we have a rule for a free drink. Here in that rule, we are combining audiences. So we have our high-value audience. We're excluding anyone who is not in the mobile consent. Then our additional rule that we want to take into consideration is anyone who's purchased a ticket in the last three days. That's our rule built for the audience. What we then do is have a look at the offer itself. Here I have a free drink offer in Adobe Experience Platform. Here we have the offer itself, the free drink offer. If we come back to here, we can see the free drink offer. We had two representations, the app and the email. Here we can see the email placement that was used in the email. Then, we have the app offer below. Now, all of these offers can be pulled either from… In this case here it was from the DAM, or they can be hardcoded directly into the offer itself, or even use a public URL, which is where the component would be hosted.

What's good about the offers as well is that we can put offer eligibility in. In this example here, I'm looking for anyone who... And this is built into the drag-and-drop composer. Anyone who hasn't accepted the drink offer or has accepted to drink offer more than 500 times. Then, we're going to stop serving this offer up because we only have so many free drinks available. Then, to follow the decisions here. This is where we see all of the acquisitions rolled up into one. So when the app is hitting the endpoint, it knows which decision to get right. What I'm going to do is… I'm just going to build the app decisions so you can see how they're built

If we're building the Ace Express decision, go ahead and give it a start date. Then we're grabbing all given placements for that. In this example, this is going to be from the app. I'm going to go ahead and grab the app placement. Then, I'm going to grab the offers themselves. Here are all the app offers that we have available. We had the free drink.
“Enjoy your free drink and enjoy first class.” Then we always need a fallback offer as well. So if someone's not eligible for the offers, then they get a default offer instead. That's how we build our decision.

Now, let's jump into a journey workflow to see our offers in action. Here, we have a journey that was based on the user experience. When someone purchased a ticket, a real-time event is sent to the Adobe Journey Optimizer platform, which will then trigger emails. Let's jump into our email builder. That email here, I'm going to jump into it here. This was our confirmation email. I'm going to build it from scratch so you can see it. I'm going to build a decision management into here. So, I drag over the offer decision in the component, and then I select the decision that we saw previously. We’re using Ace Express in our decisions. I add that in. Once it's there, then you see the free offers that were eligible for email. We had the offer fallback, which was just, “download the app.” We have a free drink that went out to John and then they will push notifications. Then, we also have our “download the app and then we'll give you first class,” as well. That offer would have went to Jane.

Let's go back into the journey workflow to see our back-office integrations. As well as the decision management, we also had the back-office items that were happening. So when someone accepts the free drink offer, we see that an event would also be sent to Adobe Journey Optimizer with a custom API action to the system. Here, I can put in all of my dynamic fields that come in from the event. We've got a user ID. We got the ID of the offer, the timestamp, and the transaction ID. Now that gets sent to an API endpoint. This would have been a predefined action built under configuration and is just an API call with a URL, then a post method. We've got headers in there and any authentication and request payload. Now, that's how Adobe Journey Optimizer is able to send offers to any external systems. Hopefully that all makes sense. If there are any questions, let me know.

Billie Loewen [00:23:51] Thank you Judge and Wesley. That demo is awesome. I am always struck by how, at least for a modern marketer, so much of the marketer's job today is really understanding and leveraging technology efficiently. Those two used to be totally separate concepts, and they could not be closer than they are today. And then, of course, in this demo, a couple of the things that strike me are that not only is a marketing leader responsible for shaping the customer experience and making it delightful and keeping up with the demands of the market, which are constantly shifting. But also, how do you manage processes efficiently so that many of these customer experiences and the personalization actions that you're taking can happen in real-time and across huge organizations? This is a tremendous challenge.

How do you get so many different pieces of campaign operations to work hand-in-hand, and leverage technology efficiently, so that it takes days and hours to make changes to the customer experience, not weeks and months, necessarily. Then, of course, the people, too. There are so many hands that often have to be in these different platforms and building these experiences. The Adobe platform is so great at making sure that everyone can speak the same language and leverage the same tools. I think this demo is always helpful in showing how you can achieve speed and quality experience simultaneously.

Mike, I'm curious what you're thinking because you've seen this demo a few times. We did something very similar at Adobe Summit, where we were a Platinum Sponsor. But I'm curious, what is striking you today about the stack and the state of affairs?

Mike Colombo [00:25:27] Yeah. I think this is the rub, right? We opened with saying, “Hey, we've got all these sophisticated tools now, and the game has changed around personalization and around management of the customer experience from end-to-end. But the rub is, how do you use them, right? What we see with our clients all the time is that there are all sorts of tools in that toolbox. But maybe, you’re not getting the most value out of them. Sometimes demos like these that take us end-to-end through an experience and how that offer decision gets made and how we organize and configure the tools and leverage them into other applications via APIs and things like that... It’s where the rubber meets the road in how to get a return on this, and by doing it the right way.

I love to show and talk about all of the capabilities that our clients have now. But, what our team does best is helping to pragmatically show how you how you’re going to actually use this to drive revenue for the business. That’s as much a part of what we need to do in marketing as anything: how you become experts on the technology, like you said, and learn how to leverage it.

Billie Loewen [00:26:56] Yes. And, how to drive business outcomes.

Mike Colombo [00:26:58] Right.

Billie Loewen [00:26:59] There are so many consulting groups or teams that are great at giving ideas and terrible at knowing how to build them. Understanding how to both have the right idea and then build it is really key today. We hear it very often, that the investment in technology has to be realized. There needs to be effort to maximize and adopt those technologies at scale so that you see the ROI.

Thank you for joining us today. It's been our pleasure to host you. Thank you again to Wesley and Judge for walking us through that demo. If you would like to speak to them or with Mike or myself, please find us on the WillowTree website. We will post links to that. You can reach out to us via email as well. Our conventions are pretty easy. It's just and you can get directly in touch with us. We'd love to hear from you, answer any questions you have, or talk about how we might be able to help you with some of your Adobe challenges and opportunities.

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