Expert Interview: Peter Szanto of SpringTab on Using Social Data to Create Unique Customer Experiences
Peter Szanto, founder of SpringTab, helps companies like Time-Warner and MasterCard create great digital experiences. He was featured in Forbes Magazine 30U30 and gave a TEDx Talk – a life-long bucket list dream. We recently asked Peter for his insight on how businesses should be using social data to improve customer user experiences. Here’s what he shared:
Can you tell us about the mission behind SpringTab? How are you hoping to impact the world of digital marketing?
At SpringTab, we love great experiences. Our desire is to create the best ones. We do this by auto-personalizing the changing landscape of mass communication. We serve brands with a tool that can be built into websites to figure out what visitors like based on their Facebook data, and then personalize experience in order to make more likely for them to come back, which increases conversion. We believe that every website should have as many versions as visitors.
How has the way you approach digital marketing evolved since you started your career?
The AdTech industry has been slow for years now, but major investors and acquisitions are heating up in the data-driven field.
Within the field of AdTech, we identified 47 technology vendors – from CMS providers to web personalization solutions. We came across something shocking!
In the recent years AdTech was a desert. Investors were slow to invest, we didn’t really hear about huge acquisitions, and there wasn’t anything new from the technology side. Almost all the players were focusing on B2C and collecting anonymous data. But something has changed, something started to move.
Demands shift from one product to another. In electronics, change is rapid; in furniture it’s gradual. The most effective way to track demand requires different data sets. Even just a few years ago, accessing social data was impossible, or too expensive and complicated. The technological shift that we can see since late 2016 is that now data extrapolation with APIs can do magic. Thus, the cost of creating the next step is reduced to half. We, at SpringTab, have been waiting for two years for this.
What are the most common frustrations you find brands have about applying social data to their marketing strategies?
Rejection from their consumers and privacy issues.
Knowing the fact that the attitude of users about tracking their social and online activity is turning toward a more liberal direction. Although users’ attitude about tracking them is turning to a positive direction, a big part of them still rejects sharing their data. This happens when the brand or content is irrelevant.
SpringTab differentiates itself by paying attention to what is shared about the user and especially who will have access to it. The data shared is only the information that the user wants to share, and accessible only by those brands who they wish to engage with.
Related: Big Data and Privacy
Moreover, brands also realized the need of change in the paradigm of online communication. Unfortunately, they may not be aware or be willing to try out new, innovative solutions. This is valid for end users as well for similar reasons.
We are working with fast-growing ecommerce companies that are lost with tackling UX, targeting and conversion. They are focusing on increasing traffic, when the real problem is visitors not coming back because they don’t get what they want. We help content providers to increase returning visitors, which in turn increases conversion.
The importance is obvious. It’s like an odorless toxic gas; we don’t feel it now, but pretty soon it will cause serious damages. Focusing solely on traffic generation in the present results in high churn in the future. By that time, it will be too late. This is why it is important to focus right now on our best visitors and create a personalized experience for them.
What can social data tell brands about their customers? What types of insight can they gain from social data that they can’t get from other types of customer data?
First of all, SpringTab can be built into websites and figure out what visitors like based on their Facebook data and on-site activity, then personalize experience in order to make more likely for them to come back.
For instance, a young lady will see music and fashion content suited to her taste and a guy will see cars, high tech and classic rock from the 80s.
A broad description of available social data is on Facebook’s official site.
How can brands better mine this data for their benefit?
Authenticate the most potential visitors and gain hidden intelligence from their social digital footprint. Accessing the visitor’s so far unrevealed social data and discovering who they really are and what they really want.
This competitive advantage opens many doors, such as conducting a promotion on Facebook, then providing personalization right away on the website; or a media house opts-in users on one site and personalizes experience on another. This would not be able to be done with a recommendation engine due to anonymous tracking and not granting permissions from the users.
This takes us to the second USP, which is focusing on the relevant users. Although SpringTab cannot personalize the experience to every visitor, it is not our intention. We instead focus on the most potential and loyal users, so the brands will spend their money where the ROI is the highest.
Last but not least, we help brands making lame online promotions cool and converting again using data and personalization.
What are the most common mistakes or oversights you see brands making when collecting, analyzing and creating strategies from the data they collect?
Good businesses know they need to leverage social media. Not so many of them are familiar with new marketing tactics, so they need to be educated about the benefits: Transforming traffic into business by creating a positive attitude toward the brand, a higher chance to buy the brand, and increased loyalty.
We are working with fast-growing ecommerce companies that are lost with tackling UX, targeting and conversion. They feel it is a nice-to-have – since they are doing OK – but the reality is that this is a must-have.
They are lost in retargeting. With us, brands do not need to waste their money on unnecessary marketing costs anymore – they only pay for activities reaching real customers.
Only spend on things that generate high ROI and close to zero waste coverage. There is no need for continuous spending on reaching consumers who have already been reached. Our customers can create a new way of digital experience, while saving time and money spent on inefficient campaigns.
What organizations have been especially effective at using digital data? What can we learn from them?
Content Provider Brands with preferably less than 250 employees, such as Publishers (eg. HuffingtonPost.com) or Online Retailers (eg. MrPorter.com) are in Fashion, Mass Merchants or Electronics industry and use Single Sign-On, plus digital tools such as Google Analytics or Facebook Ads. These brands have an average of $3.2 million revenue and 4.2 million unique visitors each month.
What trends or innovations in Big Data are you following today? Why do they interest and/or excite you?
I’m curious to see where AI will go, how chatbots and voice controls will go, and how they will use different data sets to create a more integrated experience.
All we need is using different data sets. The data is out there, but was hard to leverage in an efficient way. Actually, accessing social data was impossible a few years ago, but now data extrapolation with APIs can do magic. So the cost of creating the next step is reduced to half. We’ve been waiting two years for this.
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