The past 2 years have been incredibly fulfilling: I got married, have a baby on the way, and have been working with an incredible group of people developing software for the world’s best clients. I feel incredibly blessed.
In this post, we’re going to focus on the work aspect (not getting married or having a child, but I’m open to any and all husbanding and parenting advice!), and give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what we’ve been up to and why we’re excited to share it with you.
It all started with a traffic ticket …
The 2 Million Dollar Traffic Ticket
February 2010. I’m sitting in the world’s foremost idea incubator: Traffic Court.
Awaiting to appear before a judge for a ticket (infraction: speaking with Joe Manos on my cell phone … it’s against the law here in California!), I started doodling what became one of the key building blocks for our new Marketing Platform. Here’s the doodle …
I know it doesn’t look like much, but these sketches led to an idea we believe reduces complexity and provides a compelling framework for how you think about, launch, and manage multi-channel campaigns.
Within a few days of sitting in court, we made the decision to invest a few million in development.
But why? While we’re well known for Personalized URLs (PURLs), the opportunity for today’s marketer extends much further; as you know, now there’s SMS, Twitter, Facebook, and so much more. PURLs are just one tactic in an increasingly complex, sophisticated, and dizzying array of options.
That’s why we’ve created three things we’re excited about:
- The Marketing Studio: a visual environment (some Users are calling it an integrated development environment) for creating multi-channel, multi-touch campaigns;
- The Marketing Engine: a gnarly beast that powers everything; and
- The Marketing Language: an XML-based method for describing an entire marketing workflow, useful for integration and more.
I’ll tell you a bit more about each.
The Marketing Studio: The Visual Design Environment
The Marketing Studio is a slick drag-and-drop interface for visually creating multi-touch, multi-channel workflows. It’s what you use to plan, architect, and configure your cross-media campaigns. You can:
- orchestrate all sorts of offline-and-online media like direct mail, email, and social media, along with microsites and landing pages — all in an easy drag-n-drop environment, requiring no technical skills;
- leverage event-driven triggers to create marketing sequences (some people call them drip-and-nurture sequences), using any combination of media; and
- analyze campaign performance using Visual Reporting and Analytics, providing real-time insight in to campaign performance.
Our beta Users are excited about the fact that they can use the environment to brainstorm and design a campaign workflow as they’re sitting with a Client. Here’s a short video that gives you a sense of what I’m talking about.
By the way: All campaign activity is supported by a powerful contact repository that progressively captures behavioral information, allowing personalization and targeting in future communication.
Here’s a snapshot of what it looks like to create a workflow (this happens to be for a microsite). Click to see more clearly:
The Marketing Engine
The Engine is seriously cool. It’s the part of the system that executes your cross-media campaign, and has lots of horsepower.
- ingests an open architecture language (MAML) that describes an entire multi-channel, multi-touch marketing campaigns (more on that below);
- has APIs for creating, managing, and reporting campaign activity; and
- can be customized using Extension Modules.
Essentially, when you use the Marketing Studio to create a marketing campaign, everything you do is captured within a MAML file, which is fed to the Engine for execution. Other applications can also feed MAML to the Engine. Let’s look at this aspect a bit more closely.
The Marketing Language: MAML
Sure, its a funny word (say “mammal” out loud a few times …), but what’s it all about?
MAML is based on a special form of Extensible Markup Language (XML), and provides a way to describe an entire marketing workflow. When you use the Marketing Studio, the output of your work is MAML. This means that within a MAML document, each aspect of the marketing workflow is articulated, including various forms of media like email, SMS, and landing pages, as well as the content and personalization required by each element.
Think of it as a smart, self-described document that holds not only the marketing content, but also instructions for how campaign respondents interact with each element.
MAML expands workflow integration beyond the pressroom and into the enterprise itself. For example, MAML-enabled systems can interface with other systems such as print workflow management, CRM software, and web-to-print.
Here’s a snapshot that shows that what you design in the Studio is also expressed in XML:
We’re Just Getting Started . . .
I’m so thankful for that cell phone ticket 2 years ago. Hopefully, you’ll soon feel the same way.
Whether you need workflow freedom in designing multi-touch, multi-media campaigns using different media (watch this video to get an idea of what I’m talking about: bit.ly/MFIplatform), or if you’re a more technical User looking to integrate your web-2-print and cross-media solution for a higher degree of automation, we feel there’s something for you.
Here’s what we’d like from you: If you want to be on our beta list, leave a comment below. If something said here is unclear, leave a comment so we can clarify. We’re still working through the best way to communicate about this platform, so your input is very helpful.
Here’s to traffic tickets — maybe a little less expensive next time!