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Year in review: 2020 from a product perspective

Jan 19, 2021 Michal Novovesky 6 min read

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Michal Novovesky is the Chief Product Officer for Exponea. He takes a look back at the incredible year Exponea had in 2020, how the product changed, and offers a glimpse ahead to the future.

2020! What a year of changes.

Looking back to last January and considering what our plans were at that time, I am completely amazed by what we achieved at Exponea over the past 12 months.

The adaptability seen during the COVID-19 pandemic and what our team and customers were able to do in such a short amount of time has been unbelievable. I’m grateful to all of our customers whose futures may have been unsure at times.

Your commitment to Exponea and your creativity allowed for successful business pivots in a dire time. You truly turned this pandemic into an opportunity and saved the jobs of your employees in the process.

In 2020, our customers have made me realize that our product is not only just a set of features that deliver value by better understanding people’s behavior in good economic times. We are a strong base that can support our customers in their most difficult times of business and can help them turn a threat like a pandemic into an opportunity.

We are always talking about the necessity of being fast in the modern e-commerce world, and being able to run and evaluate quick experiments to ensure future success.

In 2020, the pace of change most companies in the world were required to achieve was unprecedented. It was also not only about the speed, but about the activities companies had to change, as every day of inactivity could cause enormous harm to the business.

It makes me extremely proud when I see how our customers were able to use Exponea to help their businesses in these unprecedented times. I’d like to praise some of them here and give these examples of a winning mindset and absolutely fantastic speed in execution.

OluKai delivers ‘aloha’ to their customers in a crisis

In March 2020, it was clear that COVID-19 was well on its way to being a global issue.

The lives of many OluKai customers looked completely different and day-to-day normalities were transformed overnight. OluKai knew it wasn’t time for business as usual. A response was needed, and fast.

Though OluKai typically plans campaigns months in advance, a rapidly changing situation called for a different approach.The OluKai team initiated a brainstorming session and came up with the idea for this campaign on Thursday, March 12th. The campaign went live on Friday, March 13th.

Yes, one day later.

Impressive, right? Learn more about one of the campaigns that came together the fastest in 2020. 

WildTangent offers six free games during pandemic

WildTangent, a premium American company for discovering and playing PC casual games, provided PC gamers with a healthy distraction during the pandemic.

The creative ‘six free games campaign’ was born when WildTangent launched a unique promotion with a partner that allowed it to give away six free games, in the format of game codes, via email and in a service presentation to the partner’s customers. It is a completely automated promotion that is still active today and one of the highest converting campaigns for WildTangent and its partner.

WildTangent truly got the most out of Exponea in this campaign using five different CDXP features to help entertain consumers through the dog days of 2020.

Restaurants pivot business during lockdowns

It’s no secret that restaurants all over the world experienced a great disturbance in 2020 because of the pandemic.

This was no different for the in-person eateries or restaurant groups that are Exponea customers. Each had to get immensely creative in a short amount of time to prevent future issues.

While each restaurant or group did it slightly differently, I am proud that our product helped facilitate necessary change quickly so that restaurants could effectively pivot operations when they were mandated to close by local governments. The flexibility of our product and how it can adapt was truly on display.

We say that Exponea delivers “speed and magic” and that was definitely the case for our customers in food service in 2020. 

2020’s product updates

What makes me even more proud is that our Exponea team never stopped producing amazing work throughout 2020.

We delivered 56 upgrades of the product, consisting of new features and tweaks of existing features. These were spread into 18 releases throughout the year, which means that we delivered something new or better to our customers an average of 1 ½ times every single month in 2020.

These are my three favorite features of the year, features that already helped our clients to deliver more relevant experiences to their customers.

Smart newsletter policy

We kickstarted the year with a smart newsletter policy feature with the aim to help our customers to send less emails, make them more relevant to subscribers, and at the same time increase revenue from email channels.

It sounds counterintuitive, how can I earn more money if I send less emails? Our hypothesis proved to be correct and many businesses are now happily sending less emails. I would bet that their subscribers really appreciate this change.

River Island, a popular high street fashion brand out of London, increased revenue per email by 30% with our smart newsletter policy.

Don’t hesitate to try this feature out if you are not using it yet.

AB testing with automatic winner distribution for outbound channels 

Following the smart newsletter policy, we wanted to make the lives of email marketers easier and automate some of their repetitive tasks so they could focus more on creating new and powerful experiments.

AB testing is not a new concept, but let’s be honest, it’s a time consuming operation. Typically, you need to set the test, launch a campaign, wait to get data, evaluate, apply learnings, and launch the campaign again.

We made this easier for all of our users and automated a big portion of this process. Thanks to our new feature, users do not have to wait for data, do evaluation, and launch campaigns again. Our machines are doing it for them.

Facebook Conversion API

Advertising with Facebook Ads has long been the lifeblood of marketing efforts from businesses small and large across the globe. But as privacy laws have clamped down on how businesses can legally use or acquire customer data, and data breach fines skyrocket, questions around the value and risk of Facebook advertising emerged.

While individual businesses must craft their own strategy for advertising with Facebook based on their personal level of trust, Exponea decided to offer a marketing automation solution that can help bridge the gap.

Exponea’s Facebook Conversions API (FB CAPI) integration offers the possibility of sending important events, such as purchases or leads, to Facebook Ads. That in-turn allows for better optimization of Facebook Ad campaigns.

In the world of GDPR and CCPA regulations and more customers becoming concerned about personal privacy, this feature is giving companies and users better control of what they share with Facebook. It also helps to optimize retargeting even more.

Black Friday

Black Friday provides a huge test of our product and underlying infrastructure every November.

We saw a huge increase in data inflow and the number of campaigns sent beginning in early November. In previous years, the spike usually came later in the month and did not last as long as 2020’s Black Friday period did.

Our platform had a strong performance with 99.998% uptime of our services, even though we saw 3x increase in email campaigns, 8x increase in mobile push notifications, and several times per month we were processing over 30,000 requests per second incoming to our servers.

On top of that, we processed approximately 25 billion behavioral events in real-time throughout November and more than 12 billion updates of products in product catalogs.

It was great to see that our customers appreciated our performance during the entire year, and particularly in the month of November. We received an outstanding 67 net promoter score in December, a number which made us truly proud.

Our internal process

Delivering the amount that we do with such quality and speed wasn’t easy and was a result of a big change we made more than a year ago.

Inspired by the Basecamp team and the book Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters, we adopted a new approach to product and engineering development and are prioritizing our roadmap in six week cycles. This gives us the ability to swiftly react to changes in the market or needs of our customers. It also ensures that we are continuously improving the experience of the product.

An example of what this looks like in practice: our customer satisfaction survey about email modules went out at the end of August. This was followed by detailed customer interviews in September, that led to sketching new product features in October. This eventually culminated with a mid-November release.

2021 and beyond

Seeing what we were able to achieve in 2020 makes me extremely excited for 2021.

Our plan is to release our roadmap in the next two weeks. While you wait for the full roadmap, you can play around with our first released new feature of this year: a link shortener for SMS campaigns that will be available in your account soon.

To all of Exponea’s customers who stayed committed to us throughout 2020, thank you. The Exponea product team is looking forward to serving you in 2021 and beyond. 

If you are not yet an Exponea customer but the features of Exponea’s Customer Data & Experience Platform would fit your company, schedule a demo today to learn how Exponea turns customer data into marketing magic.

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Exponea's CDXP gives marketers the complete toolset they need for creating incredible customer experiences, by bringing together AI-driven marketing automation, real-time analytics and UX optimization with a best-in-class CDP.

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