A startup in Ottawa, Ontario just launched a predictive email marketing solution that it claims will help retailers deliver "predictive, personalized email messages" to online shoppers, especially during the upcoming holiday season.

"Online retailers can distinguish themselves in a number of ways but the biggest way, from our perspective, is that they treat customers like the individuals they are rather than grouping them together and blasting them with email product offerings they don't care about," said Rob Lane, CEO of RareLogic, the company behind the Rare.io platform that launched today. 

"Gone are the days where customers need to be segmented into broad groups for targeting as offerings can be personalized based on what customer have previously purchased."

Watch Out Campaign Monitor, MailChimp

Lane believes the technology behind his platform will disrupt the major email marketing players like Campaign Monitor and MailChimp. "We make use of the retailers data to enable these personalized email recommendation rather than sending a single blast email," he said.

Campaign Monitor and MailChimp rank among the most-used email marketing platforms, so the folks at RareLogic have a long road ahead.

Campaign Monitor, for example, has 1.2 million customers. Lane said RareLogic is up to 500 now. 

Forrester Research, in its Wave report on email marketing last year, found nine significant providers: Acxiom, Epsilon, Experian Marketing Services, Oracle Responsys, Salesforce ExactTarget, Silverpop, StrongView, Yesmail Interactive and Zeta Interactive.

Lane began working on the Rare.io platform in 2009. He spent the first four years "deep in the tech figuring out how to rapidly manage and analyze large amounts of customer transactional data in an efficient manner." 

"In simple terms we allow the store owner to send predictive personalized email recommendations. We do this by using the retailers customers’ buying behavior to determine the best product recommendations for each recipient and the most appropriate time to deliver those recommendations. This is an emerging space. We've all been introduced to the concept of big data over the last few years and at Rare.io we've taken that concept and made it applicable to SMB online retailers. We individualize every email for that customer. It allows the online store owner to get closer to knowing the customer and building a one-on-one relationship," he said.

The company has five employees now with plans to double that over the next six months. 

How Rare.io Works

The Rare.io platform runs on a prediction engine that uses segment analysis. It looks for deviations from normal, or bias between customers that purchased Product X and those that did not. 

screenshot of rare.io platform for email marketing

"Unlike cross-sell analysis which is typically used for recommendations," Lane said, "our approach generates relationships between products by essentially filtering out the common purchases — purchases that are typical across your store but not necessarily related to Product X. 100 percent of the customer base and 100 percent of transactions are analyzed when generating relationships."

Lane broke down the platform's components:

  • Predictive email recommendations and delivery, which uses customers buying behavior to determine product recommendations for each recipient and the most appropriate time to deliver those recommendations
  • Automated event-based mailouts that re-engage idle customers and entice churned customers by automatically sending out emails when customers meet a predefined condition
  • Drag-and-drop email designer, which manages all the responsive layout and reflows the mobile design without code, systems and media queries.
  • Customer list builder to help marketers learn more about your customers’ detailed purchase behavior and drills down to create segment lists for future campaigns.

"At Rare.io we have initially focused on the small/medium business segment where they their typical customer count is as low as a few hundred customers up to several hundred thousand customers," Lane said. 

"Given our SMB focus, the users of our platform are often the store owner, in the case of smaller stores to a marketing lead in the larger stores. One thing we pride ourselves on is making things simple for the user. We've gone to great lengths to provide the user with great power and flexibility without exposing them to the complexities of the technologies."

Holiday Advice

What does Lane advise for holiday e-commerce success? While none of his suggestions are surprising, given the space in which his company operates, we'll share them anyway.

Personalize your email (a not surprising recommendation, given the company's product.) "Think personal rather than blasting the same content without regard," Lane said.

Use responsive design. Customers typically use multiple devices to view email, browse and buy.

Optimize for mobile. Your email needs to be readable on a small screen.

Rare.io currently works with Shopify and Spree e-commerce platforms, and more e-commerce platform integrations will be added on the coming months.

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