Case Study: Georgia Cleaning Service Uses AI Assistant for Targeted Promotions

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Merchant: My Amazing Maid
Location: Columbus, GA
Platform: Signpost, Facebook, MailChimp, Google
Bottom Line: Businesses can save money when they target their best promotions to the customers most in need of an enticement.

In an industry where traditional word of mouth is paramount, Royce Ard has figured out a way to use technology to his advantage. The owner of My Amazing Maid, a cleaning service he opened his with his wife Tamara in 2013, Ard says marketing costs are one of the largest expenses on his financial statements, just behind labor.

“We cannot afford for a campaign to be ineffective, which to us means that we need every campaign to bring in enough money to at least pay for itself,” he says. “Almost all of our marketing expenses are for acquisition-type campaigns to attract new customers that will do business with us month after month.”

Since early 2016, Ard has been working with the marketing automation vendor Signpost to provide loyalty offers to his existing customers and help with promotional offers for prospects and customers who’ve stopped scheduling recurring appointments. He also uses Mia, Signpost’s “automated marketing assistant,” to mine positive reviews and testimonials for Google and Yelp.

“When we heard about Signpost we were excited, as it gave us a cost effective way to market back into our customer base, something we had not been doing on a consistent basis,” he says.

Ard says his strategy of marketing to existing customers who haven’t used his company’s services in a while is paying off, especially around the holidays when people are looking to get their homes cleaned for a special occasion. He’s still discovering new ways to use the technology that’s available to him, and says he’s particularly interested in segmenting his customer database by customer type.

“[Segmenting] has allowed us to be more targeted in our marketing messages and offers,” he says. “It has also allowed us to set up recurring loyalty campaigns for our most valuable customers—sort of ‘set it and forget it’ type campaigns.”

When customers don’t respond to his marketing emails, Ard uses Signposts’s automated marketing assistant, Mia, to reach out again in an unobtrusive way. Ard says Mia has been “very effective” at re-engaging customers and getting them to respond to the low-cost/high-value offers he sends out for new customer acquisition.

“The artificial intelligence in Mia allows us to target these offers to customers who have gone silent—which we interpret as customers who may not be as excited about our services as they were in the past,” he says. “These offers have more cost than our typical loyalty offer, so we can’t extend them to our whole customer base.”

Since he started using Signpost, Ard says he’s been able to get positive reviews added to Google and Yelp. He’s also started to gather more customer testimonials, which automatically post to a testimonial page that’s linked from his company’s website and his Facebook page.

“In our market we find that the most valuable online platform is Google and the reviews that they post. Being a smaller market, we find that Yelp is still primarily used for restaurant reviews, but I do see that beginning to change,” he says. “We find that if you make it easy for your customers to give you reviews on these platforms, they will use them.”

In addition to Signpost, Ard uses Facebook and MailChimp for marketing. He sends an annual newsletter to customers who use his company for recurring services. He also purchases search engine and Facebook advertising, and frequently sends surveys to customers each time they’ve received a new service.

“I’m a big believer in Facebook marketing overall, but have not found it to be that effective for us yet,” Ard says. “Of course when someone posts about a positive experience with our company that makes the phones ring—or I should say, it makes the notifications pop up.”

Ard feels confident in the value he’s getting from digital marketing based on the numbers he’s seeing. For example, he says the last loyalty offer he sent out with Signpost had a take rate of more than 30%.

“I think it comes down to ROI and ease of use, and not always in that order. If the platform gives you a good return on investment but you are unable to use it consistently because it is complex or cumbersome to use, then you won’t be able to capitalize on that return,” he says. “And no matter how easy it is to use a platform, if it doesn’t provide an acceptable return on investment, then you won’t be able to afford to use it.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.