A quick Q&A with Brightloom CEO Adam Brotman

He shares a little more detail on the business, which finally launched out of stealth mode a few months ago.

Brightloom is a tech company that uses AI to personalize a business’s marketing efforts. 

Previously, CEO Adam Brotman spent nearly a decade in various senior leadership roles at Starbucks, most notably as the coffee giant’s chief digital officer. Brightloom secured backing from Starbucks in 2019 when the company licensed Brightloom parts of its proprietary marketing software in return for what a recent Insider piece called “an undisclosed equity stake.”

In February, Brightloom announced another $15 million round of funding and officially launched out of stealth mode (whew, finally) to, in part, give smaller businesses the kind of technology that huge companies like Starbucks can develop and deploy. “Brightloom saw an opportunity to democratize the most elusive part of the Starbucks digital flywheel: How to leverage data-driven predictive-personalization to drive high-impact marketing programs,” said Brotman. There are plenty of these companies on the market, he says, but all are geared toward larger brands. Brightloom’s Customer Growth Platform (he refers to this as CGP) is built “to tell brands what to do next, so they don’t have to hire teams to build models, guess at rules, run experiments, and then interpret the results.”

(This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

Can you share a little about the importance of letting a restaurant business owner control their own messaging and how it can make a difference, especially while marketing to a local audience?

We created the CGP with busy restaurateurs and retailers in mind. It’s a purpose-built enterprise platform with consumer-grade, intuitive design. We don’t expect our customers to be data engineers, data scientists, or marketing experts. Rather, Brightloom works as an extension of their team to provide data-science-as-a-service to drive high-impact marketing programs. 

As a first step our CGP ingests a brands’ data, like customer transaction history and product/menu details. Then the data is run through our proprietary product recommendation and revenue forecast models to predict what each customer is likely to purchase next and how much they are likely to spend. The CGP uses these predictions to generate relevant product recommendations and promotions for each digitized customer that are designed to increase customer engagement and maximize business impact. 

Next, the CGP groups customers with the same recommendations into SmartSegments, which automatically include holdout/control groups. SmartSegments can then be uploaded into a brand’s existing campaign management system to be sent out to their customers in the form of email/push/or mobile message. Brands can customize their marketing campaigns and promotional offers.

It’s clear during the pandemic there’s been increased consumer reliance on digital ordering to capture more information (at a minimum) or lay the groundwork for some sort of loyalty program. How can a restaurant take the most advantage of their current situations to set themselves up for future success? 

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to customer loyalty and digital — you aren’t talking about just technology, it’s about building and strengthening the relationship with the customer using digital. My advice for brands that are just beginning this journey after the pandemic-induced wave of digitization is to start now and start small. 

Marketers often tend to strive for a “golden customer record,” falling prey to the misconception that more customer data always leads to better results. This forces many brands into a state of analysis paralysis, spinning wheels to get to the most accurate and comprehensive data meanwhile stalling on making actual progress. 

The truth is, attaining a perfect 360-degree view of existing customers is an extremely long and capital-intensive process, but it’s even more difficult to operationalize it in a way that serves the business. To ensure that perfect does not become the enemy of the good, businesses should prioritize incremental digital improvements that can be leveraged in the short term. 

For instance, businesses that are completely analog might add a digital platform like a mobile app or a website to give customers more options for payment, while more advanced businesses can start making sophisticated changes like connecting POS systems to those digital platforms to scan personalized offers at the register. What’s important is that these improvements are providing immediate tangible benefits all while helping businesses move closer to their North Star.

Personalization as a trend has been around a while, and in the early days there was lots of worry it would feel creepy. How do you think about personalization in a way that doesn’t feel invasive? 

First, ensure that the customer data you collect brings actual value to your customers. They should get a quality return on the “information investment” they make with a brand. Whether it’s data-driven personalization or an actual loyalty program it all has to ladder up to strengthening and enhancing the relationship with the customer and providing them with a seamless dialed-in experience. In turn, brands can drive more frequency and that’s a win-win for both the customer and your business and makes it much less likely for customers to have qualms with you collecting their data.

Second, be clear and transparent about how you obtain customer data. There is nothing quite as infuriating as getting a personalized irrelevant ad from a brand that you never engaged with. Brands need to be extremely conscious of how they communicate with their customers.