It’s pretty difficult to make digital marketing sexy, but crystal (yes, with a lower-case c, which is going to drive journalists and copy-editors bananas for the foreseeable future) is going at it with both barrels.
Launched in public beta today at TechCrunch Disrupt’s Startup Alley, the product features beautiful dashboards, smart AI and Siri-like voice control. Its self-learning algorithms can learn when a company’s audiences are most likely to respond to marketing messaging and much more.
“We like to call it an advisor rather than a virtual assistant,” says Marco Cartasegna, one of the company’s founders. “We developed our own artificial intelligence engine that learns from the way your audience reacts and interacts with your content. It gives you advice and can help build efficient campaigns.”
I tested out the crystal’s voice solution and was bowled over by how smart it was. A quick “Show me what time to post to Instagram for maximum user engagement” resulted in instant recommendations and insights. Best of all, the company’s AI is not just learning from your own interactions; if it finds learnings that apply to a broader selection of its users, the insights gained from other companies on the platform make your recommendations smarter, too.
Adding some (artificial) intelligence
“A lot of digital marketing is done off rules of thumb and guesswork,” says Uljan Sharka, the company’s CEO. “That doesn’t make sense. No two companies are the same, so we are adding self-learning algorithms to the mix. The software is powered by our own Artificial Intelligence engine built on Google Cloud.”
Based in Milan, Italy, the company is the brainchild of the iGenius digital agency, developing the solution to scratch its own itch.
“We have used quite a few social and web analytics tools for our own and our clients’ marketing,” says Sharka. He told me the company found many of the tools out there were too embarrassing for words, so iGenius decided to deploy 25 of its staff members to build crystal.
There’s no shortage of digital marketing SaaS services. It is undeniably a bold move to launch crystal into an intensely contested market with a number of well-entrenched players. Nonetheless, the company has huge ambitions for its future, aiming to be a comprehensive business intelligence platform, implementing data analytics, social publishing and even smart paid-for promotion of social media posts using the various platforms’ advertising APIs.