Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast
Danny Levinson is the CEO of Transformania, a marketing tech company that focuses on formatting or enriching names or what scientists might refer to as an anthroponymy type of business. With a database of contacts which people add data to manually, from an API, from a web form, or by scanning business cards, that name data goes into their database in all sorts of ways, sometimes first name then last name or last name then first name. Sometimes, there are typos or a maiden name gets thrown in the mix. It could be difficult to understand if it’s a maiden name or nickname, but they handle all that. They’ll parse it, format it, and send it back, so one can easily identify who’s in their database.
CRM, marketers, folks that are using Salesforce, HubSpot, Zoho marketing, and the like are the people they are targeting. Basically anybody with a list of contacts would be using their system. The result is both an API which can be plugged into a back end and also a do-it-yourself app. One would simply need to go on their website (which is easy to use), upload a list of contacts, and then they will provide you with the corrected, formatted, and enriched data in a few minutes. Their main competitor is IBM, which has a service like theirs that costs millions and millions of dollars, but while IBM targets financial crimes and national security, Transformania doesn’t care about that. They’re more focused on marketing.
Personalisation at scale with Transformania
Transformania helps with personalisation at scale by plugging it directly into a CRM wherein Salesforce will send them unformatted data and then they send back the formatted data. Another way they help with personalisation at scale is after the CSV or Excel document has been formatted, it can be re-uploaded, and they have these trademarked new columns of data called the “Dear me” fields. They have formal and casual “Dear me. They’d still put, for instance, “Adrian” in the first name column and “James” in the last name column, but based on other data they enrich, either they go out on the internet to find data or they find data from the file itself, they will know that Adrian’s nickname and casual “Dear me” is Jim. If someone said in an email, “Hey, Adrian,” they probably don’t know that person, but if it’s, “Hey, Jim,” that’s personalisation at scale.
In terms of how exactly they go about that process of enriching date and how they’re able to comply with GDPR, Danny says they’re coming out with a North America version first with the European and Asian versions released after that. They do keep in mind that regardless of where they are in the world, they need to comply with GDPR, because they can have clients from anywhere, so as far as GDPR goes, folks who are interested in data governance will be using them as well, because according to some of the data governance rules, both at the legal side and corporate side, one can only maintain and keep data for a certain period of time. And it’s going to be kept for a certain period of time, the value of that should be maximised, and one of the ways to do that is by getting the most bang for your buck from what’s in there. When it comes to going out and finding other third party data, Danny says they do have some constraints on that in places like Europe, rightfully so, but they can also mine what’s in the file itself. Oftentimes, what clients give them, they can find lots of gems from what’s already there. They can estimate someone’s gender, age, and other novelty things that help supercharge their client’s marketing campaign.
Insights reports and transparency
A key part of any CRM and personalisation at scale are the analytics and reports, to which they provide an insights report available both online and also as a PDF. This includes features like breakout, what are the largest nicknames, what are the largest number of formal names, the largest number of casual names. You get the idea. They’ll tell you if you have a lot of Hernandezes and Smiths and Joneses on your list, or a lot of Mike’s, Sally’s, Jane’s, and things like that. For them over at Transformania, what’s actionable is understanding the sender reputation, and this revolves around the domain name and how other ESPs or email service providers look at the domain name, whether it is good or bad. They don’t provide data on the ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’ of it, but they look at the type of domains your contacts have, for example, if it’s Gmail-heavy, if it’s hotmail-heavy, if there are lots of individual domains in there, and they highlight processing messages and codes on things that you might need to pay attention to. The other thing they do is they break apart every single record and give full transparency on it. If a file has, say, a million records in there, for every single row in there, they will give multiple codes on what they did with that record.
For instance, once they format and enrich “Adrian James,” they’d give a code that says that they first split the name and they added a nickname because “Adrian James” doesn’t have a nickname built in but they found one and they added one. They also remove the extraneous text and give a processing code on that. “Adrian” can be both a male or a female name, so they’ll flag it so that you can go back and double check to make sure that they marked it correctly and that “Mr.” James would be appropriate. They have lots and lots of data to give back, but they also don’t want to confuse people. They want to make it easy for users to grab the data, put it in, and use it. That’s what the CSV is for. But for folks who really want to drill down, that’s what the insights report for.
Data segmentation and mixed language campaigns
Regarding campaigns involving geotargeting, Danny says they don’t have the ability to send the message, but they do give the data that you can then segment based upon. If there’s data in there based on geography or people’s addresses, they separate it, if you’re in the US, based on states and cities. They also can give congressional districts in the US and other ways to parse and format that data. Outside the US, they’re still looking at different ways to do that, and this is why they’re coming out with the North American version first. Having spent over 20 years in Asia, Danny says he knows Asia better than Europe. Nevertheless, they provide the tools for people to figure out how to segment the data.
When it comes to mixed language campaigns and data, by doing North America first which is a melting pot of culture, they actually get to tackle pretty much every name and every ethnicity around the world. He does admit that there are some challenges with formatting Asian names. For instance, Koreans have about 60 key surnames, but that for them is pretty easy. Their surnames are, by and large, one syllable, followed by their given names which are usually two and three syllabus. For China, that deals with many different dialects. There’s Hokkien, Hainanese, Shanghainese, and you have folks in Singapore and Taiwan who have Chinese names and different ways of writing that and maybe even concatenating their English name to that. There might be someone from mainland China whose name is Xie, but elsewhere, especially from Cantonese languages, it might be spelled as Hsieh. Xie can also be a given name, so it’s a surname and a given name. You may be wondering then how to tell these names apart, but not to worry, Transformania has done all the hard work and figured that out.
Transformania is at the forefront of technology, commerce, and communications, and in the SPEAK|pr program, which is Storify, Personalise, Engage, Amplify, and Know, under personalisation, the challenge with personalisation at scale is that it requires a data management tool like Transformania that can take large amounts of disparate and ill-formatted content and then standardise the format so that when the mail merge is done within the fields of the database and campaign software, each individual person is getting personalised content, but also the address line, the “Dear me” as they call it at Transformania, is appropriate.
Especially because countries often have different naming formats, the ability of a product or a service like Transformania to take large volumes of data, sort them, and give them back in subsets that can be used without anxiety sending emails to the wrong people or emails addressed improperly is going to be a great relief. Don’t forget that personalisation at scale for media relations, for staff, or for partners, and for customers is an essential part of public relations. Transformania is currently in their beta period, where they’re actively working with small and large customers to make sure that they’re sending out, on day one, a fantastic product. You can find more information on their website, and there, you can register for the beta and get in touch with Danny.
This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.
Cover Photo from Cision