7 Chicago companies making marketers' lives easier

April 17, 2017

Algorithms aren’t replacing human marketers yet, but adtech companies are constantly coming up with new ways to automate tedious manual processes. For marketers, that means more time to focus on the creative stuff.

Many of the most innovative companies in this space are located right here in Chicago. From AI-driven email customization to social campaigns that respond to changes in the weather, here’s what a few of them are working on.


Whether you’re a fledgling SaaS startup or an established e-commerce company, following up with consumers at the right time and in the right way can do wonders for customer loyalty and retention. ActiveCampaign lets companies build automated email campaigns that respond to how customers are interacting with their sites. The company also offers solutions to support sales teams in nurturing, categorizing and following up with leads, allowing reps to step in when a personal touch is most likely to have an impact.


Remember when families used to gather around a single screen to watch television shows and live sporting events together? Now that consumers use personal devices to stay entertained during breaks in the action, advertisers have to get savvier about how they try to reach them. By using predictive intelligence, 4C lets brands reach consumers on social media in conjunction with their television spots. The company’s platform also helps advertisers gain insight into ad delivery and impact.


Timing is everything. But unless you have years of advertising experience, it can be hard to predict the right time and place for any given ad. Strike Social uses AI to help marketers hone in on the best times, targets and channels. In addition to helping marketers at the planning stage, the platform can also make suggestions for shifting ad dollars while a campaign is already underway, allowing companies to stretch their budgets further and reach a broader audience.


An email campaign’s performance is affected by a plethora of factors ranging from subject lines to the time of day and the actual email copy. But because no two customers are the same, maximizing a campaign’s potential requires careful segmenting and deliberate targeting. Optimail uses AI to tailor messages for each individual recipient. Built by a pair of recent Northwestern University PhD program graduates, the startup’s platform can be trained to outperform experienced marketers at targeting in a matter of weeks.


Celebrity news, world events and weather changes all have ripple effects on consumer shopping behavior. But if you’re looking to capitalize on fast-emerging trends, you have to act quickly. Sentic Technologies absorbs real-time data about social conversations, in-store inventory and external events to adapt campaigns without human intervention. And thanks to its machine learning algorithms, the platform is able to parse out the signal from the noise.


For car dealerships, slow-moving inventory can get expensive quickly. But many dealers lack the advertising know-how to reach the right buyer for every car. With its automated automotive advertising platform, LotLinx spreads ads for individual vehicles across car sites, social networks and other highly trafficked web destinations. The ads are served up to consumers who have already been browsing for that particular make and model, and they send the shopper directly to that car’s listing on the dealer’s website.


Testing out different variations of an ad is a great way to hone in on the creative that works best, but manual A/B testing can only get you so far. AdBasis lets marketers drag and drop photoshop files into a web-based ad builder that proceeds to test all of the possible variations of your ad automatically. In addition to discovering the overall best-performing images, colors and copy, AdBasis breaks audiences down into demographic groups, allowing marketers to reach consumers with the ads that are most likely to resonate with them.


Images via Shutterstock and listed companies.

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