Gumtree modernises its CRM strategy with eye on AI use cases

Gumtree, the popular British classified ads website owned by eBay, is embarking on a new customer relationship management (CRM) strategy based around Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud SaaS solution. Once it has this in place the company wants to leverage AI and machine learning techniques for better personalisation of its marketing messaging.

Upon joining the company in 2016 from Marks and Spencer, Gumtree's head of CRM, Matt Button said that the organisation's idea of CRM was "really just email".

"What I inherited was a series of broadcast emails and a few triggered emails along with some fairly straightforward segmentation supporting that,” he said.

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Button saw Gumtree, with its millions of monthly users as a "sleeping giant" when he joined and said the company had identified that "CRM could be the most cost effective and profitable marketing channel for us".

Gumtree turned to popular SaaS CRM vendor Salesforce so that the organisation was no longer "just thinking email and broadcast campaigns, but using the data properly to act and anticipate the needs of our customers", Button said.

The company was already using Salesforce Marketing Cloud for its business-to-business marketplace for motor dealers, so it was fairly simple to expand that relationship for its higher volume ‘for sale’ consumer marketplace.

Button admits that he was concerned that a company like Gumtree could be “swallowed up” by a giant like Salesforce, “but thus far I haven't felt that way at all…we have direct access to the people we need”, he said.

Button says that they are still only in the implementation phase for Salesforce and its developers are currently working out “how to knit all data together to create a single customer view for marketing”.

Once this work is done Button hopes to be able to perform tighter segmentation and targeting capabilities. “I want to be in a position where 70 percent of campaigns we do are trigger based, so not reliant on broadcast campaigns,” he said.

Gumtree has some pretty typical core aims for its new CRM strategy: increasing the frequency which people use Gumtree (traffic) and another metric they call “vibrancy”, which is essentially engagement. By personalising messaging more effectively, Button hopes to retain customers better, which can be a challenge for a site like Gumtree where users typically visit irregularity to sell a single item, like a car or a sofa.

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Button is also looking to leverage advanced AI and machine learning once they have got their data tidied up. Gumtree is partnering with UK martech startupPhrasee for AI-driven subject line optimisation and Button is already eying Salesforce’s own Einstein features.

Gavin Mee, senior vice president and head of UK at Salesforce said at the time of the expanded partnership that “companies like Gumtree are placing a focus on delivering personalised and relevant messaging to their customers - at the right place and the right time.

“Working with Marketing Cloud Einstein, Gumtree will get 360-degree customer views and be able to deliver consistent communications, as well as predictive, data-driven customer journeys to all of its customers.”

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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