How Artificial Intelligence (AI) Puts the FUN in Funnel Marketing

2020 in the cruise industry has been a roller-coaster for all brands, but the best have used this time to ramp up their digital experience, expand their online offerings and improve their customer’s path to purchase. As manager of the booked guest website and pre-cruise email series at a major cruise line, I am responsible for attracting, engaging, and delighting guests who have already booked their cruise and are excitedly awaiting their unforgettable experience at sea. 

In the cruise industry, we are given a gift and a curse – too much data. When managing communications through funnels, optimizing content for engagement and conversion with high volume and high velocity, leveraging data can seem like a daunting task. So how does a marketer keep up? The answer may be artificial intelligence. 

Recently, my team and I transitioned our booked guest email series from SAS CI (a far more complex CRM which requires SAS expertise) to a robust journey on Salesforce with Journey Builder replacing all of the logic once living inside SAS CI processes. While this was a feat in and of itself, I was most excited to learn more about Salesforce’s AI – Einstein. Here are just a few of the ways, AI, and more specifically Salesforce’s Einstein can improve your funnel’s performance at various touch points in the customer journey by discovering insights, making smarter recommendations, automating tasks, and predicting outcomes. 

Modeling with Look-Alike Audiences

While there may be a dedicated team for building models for the pre-booked and pre-cruise experience, having models to leverage solely across email and mobile are great assets for optimizing your communication channels. Einstein gathers traits and behaviors from current customers, such as emails they’ve opened or links they have clicked, then creates a model that can be leveraged to seek new consumers who share those same characteristics. While most brands would leverage this externally in Facebook or Google advertising, this data can also be leveraged internally to match less engaged guests with the right journey to convert them. This AI capability allows you to target and scale your most successful purchasing funnels across your entire available audience using the data collected across your various channels. 

Cross-Device Identity Management – Einstein’s CDIM

The cruising guests’ journey can be severely disjointed from the pre-booking phase to booking and especially as some of our systems are antiquated and not collecting the best data records. Luckily, Einstein’s Cross-Device Identity Management (CDIM) capability, uses an algorithm to stitch together a profile of a guest across devices and platforms. Understanding at what time and on what device a guest is most likely to engage with your content empowers you to deliver the “right content at the right time”. As Hubspot (Links to an external site.) states, 

“Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be.” 

Allowing Einstein to curate the best time and best place, lets you focus on creating the right content.

Customized Predictive Capabilities

In the past, I have worked with other machine learning tools that were limited by the kind of data that could be leveraged and the time it took to build enough volume to have insights that could be activated. What I have found most exciting about Salesforce is they allow much more flexibility and are truly tailored to your data. Using Salesforce’s Automated machine learning (AutoML), marketers can collect and store data, be notified for irregularities and inconsistencies, identify significant product features as it relates to purchasing and rank strong influencers in the buying decision. These translate to easy to use merchandising capabilities such as the “Recommended For You” carousel that can easily be propagated in your emails. 

While the above is specific to the booked guest cruise experience, they hold true for any marketer looking to automate personalization and optimization of their customer journeys. Leveraging AI with mass amounts of data can help marketers make faster, smarter decisions for email and push. In considering how you can optimize your customer journeys’, Salesforce’s Einstein capabilities can be a great business asset. Plus, if you’re a data nerd, you can put the Fun back in Funnel for you and your guests.

Published by Diandrah Lamarche

Creative eCommerce manager with a passion for leveraging data and digital capabilities to build online branded experiences that expand audiences, deliver innovation and exceed business goals. Ask me about eCommerce, being a mom, cooking (or eating) and travel.

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