Why this calendar platform is adding digital payments

Local outfit ECAL sees an opportunity to add a digital wallet to its calendar platform and enhance its customer data offering

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“Everyone has the vision to be able to know as much about your customers as you can and to deliver the most personalised communications that you can. But it's no easy feat,” ECAL founder and CEO, Patrick Barrett, told CMO.

The Melbourne-headquartered marketing technology company, which specialises in calendar communications and marketing data, sees the digital calendar as central to many people’s lives. So it has created a purpose-built platform to connect events content from a publisher with a dynamic channel of communication into someone’s calendar.  

“With the huge adoption and sophistication of smartphone use each year, the calendar is heavily relied upon by consumers to manage their life,” Barrett told CMO. Now, ECAL is enabling the ability to deliver a payment link and facilitate a fast real-time payments from a link within the calendar.

“This tech takes the relationship and the interaction with a consumer that next step. Normally we would have a link within the calendar to buy tickets that would take someone to the exact page on a ticketing website to purchase a ticket with one-click access,” he said.

Going one step further, ECAL can actually deliver a personalised offer or product within a user's calendar with a payment link. “So clicking on that link the user can go through a checkout experience that we've built which makes the transaction fast and frictionless,” he added.

ECAL’s hyper-personalised information is built from an orchestration layer connected to 40-plus different payment gateways and methods. “It’s the ability to integrate and facilitate with not just one payment gateway, but many so merchants can offer the ability for a variety of payment methods," Barrett explained.

"Whether it's single, recurring or buy now, pay later, you are able to offer those easily and instantly. It requires utilisation of an orchestration layer that does that for you.”

Why the calendar is key to hyper-personalisation

Working across the entire customer journey, ECAL is looking to connect at the 'front door' of initial interest where it captures someone through the sync-to-calendar function.

“The software elicits awareness through the reminders and events, engages through the content right through to purchase intent and loyalty. It's a service that continues to live, season upon season, year upon year until a consumer disables it,” said Barrett.

Barrett believed digital feeds like events and calendars help marketers learn about their consumers, and their behaviour within an app like the calendar gives ECAL the ability to send hyper-personalised information into their calendars based on any attribute derived from their profile.

“Whether that's their location or their preferences, or their email, or behaviour we can help build cohorts of users and then deliver campaign messaging into calendar. It is certainly something that we're refining and making available to publishers,” Barrett said.

ECAL also sees itself as a great fit with an organisation investing in CRM because it has all that information collected about the users, ranging from their contact information, preferences and location behaviour. "We will feed that on a daily weekly basis to a data warehouse, or CRM of our publishers," Barrett continued.

“It lets them run a much more dynamic CRM framework, ingest that data, inform their CRM, build out their single user profiles, and use that to inform their personalised communications. From a data perspective, or CRM perspective is where ECAL fits into that broader picture.”

Building the data picture

ECAL captures some 15 billion data points every month, which are going into its Snowflake platform. Like many organisations, it faced the challenge of making sense of it all.

“Many organisations are investing in data warehousing like Snowflake, which has enabled us to do these wonderful things. We struggled for 12 months, trying to find the right data warehousing tool that could handle the amount of data we capture,” said Barrett.

Now, ECAL is using Snowflake to create custom dashboards for customers which provide consumer insights, data visualisation and enable the organisation to compile calendar data for their customers. Data products on offer include providing clients with range of specific user activity and behavioural metrics, plus machine learning-driven performance value metrics like 'Engagement Score', 'Purchase Intent' and 'Awareness'. These insights enable clients to help build their single user profile, and again, enable more personalised and intelligent communications.

As a result of these data products innovations, ECAL has seen annual client fees rise by up to 20-30 per cent amongst participating clients. Over the next 12-24 months, the company expects up to 50 per cent of its enterprise client base to be utilising these additional data products, which will help grow average revenues per customer.

First and foremost, Barrett advised personalisation needs to start at a simple level, then build up to a more complex approach utilising as much relevant data from profiles to behaviour.

“To provide some level of personalisation and get more sophisticated as you go, is certainly the right playbook in my view,” he said.

“When you have a data-led organisation that wants to do something with that data, putting the right tools in place is paramount. Investing in that data warehousing into a sophisticated CRM framework is key,” he added.

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