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Audience uses robots to hand-write marketing materials to increase response
July 15, 2022
A Miami startup seeking to rewrite the rules of traditional mass marketing with personalized notes handwritten by robots just completed a $10 million series A funding round.
The company, Audience, plans to use the growth-capital investment from Next Coast Ventures to improve its customer-relationship management (CRM) systems, enhance its user platform and expand its fleet of robots. The funding round brings Audience’s total amount raised to $12.8 million, including a pre-seed round closed in July 2021.
The Audience platform seeks to replace email campaigns and improve upon direct mail with its handwritten notes, which boast higher read rates and recipient response, the company says. The personal touch of a handwritten note leaves a long-lasting impression, helps drive conversions and increases retention, according to the startup, which says its program can boost return on marketing investment by up to 380%.
“Audience combines robotic handwritten notes with a powerful targeting database and digital-marketing follow-up,” Audience CEO Jesse Stein says. “This unique combination helps companies close more deals, form deeper bonds with prospects and customers and remove friction from the follow-up process.”
The robots use real pens and write with precise pressure, slant and flow to “mimic the nuances of the human hand,” the company says. They also add slight variations to each character and leave subtle blemishes and the imprint of a pen pressed on paper. The robots can produce a variety of handwriting fonts that are selected by the client to reflect brand and personality.
The messages are written on thick-stock note cards printed with the client’s logo and artwork, which they can upload or drag and drop when designing on the program. After writing the note, Audience stamps, seals and mails it first class. The envelopes are hand-addressed by the robots and receive actual stamps to increase authenticity, Audience says.
Once sent, the performance of note campaigns can be tracked, either with promo codes and tracking URLs or by measuring lift in conversions from audience segments that received notes versus control groups that didn’t. Clients can include gift cards from Starbucks, Amazon and other retailers with their notes.
“Audience represents the evolution of the digital-marketing landscape toward hyper-personalized customer engagement, and we couldn’t be happier to partner with them,” Next Coast cofounder and managing partner Thomas Ball says. “The combination of an incredible team, robotic hardware and easy-to-use software made the investment in Audience incredibly attractive.”
So far, the platform has been used by real estate agents from Keller Williams, Sotheby’s and Douglas Elliman, while the insurance industry has also shown interest, Audience says. Marketing plans start at $495 per month for 140 notes, or $3.54 per send, and increase to $1,495 per month for 600-plus notes, or $2.49 per send.
John Yellig has been a journalist for more than 20 years, writing and editing for a range of publications both in print and online. His primary coverage areas over the years have included criminal justice, politics, government, finance, real estate and technology.
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