Using Artificial Intelligence to Engage Consumers

January 26, 2017

2016 was the year we saw Artificial Intelligence (AI) progress from a concept everyone associated with I, Robot to a technology we have begun to use on a daily basis. AI, the development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, is being integrated into every aspect of our lives.

This past year, we have seen the rise in popularity of many products that incorporate AI. There’s Alexa, the voice of Amazon’s Echo, that provides customers with an intuitive interaction without ever having to press a button or even use a screen. Amy Ingram, the virtual personal assistant for busy executives that sets up meetings by sending amazingly human-like emails. And of course, Facebook integrated chatbots into their Messenger app, allowing businesses to deliver targeted conversations with consumers.

Now that we have begun to see the mainstreaming of Artificial Intelligence, get ready for the technology to be used at almost every level of the business sphere.

The Rise of Direct Customer Engagement

Chatbots especially, are the kind of AI being quickly implemented since they are cost-effective and they help businesses increase their one-on-one consumer interaction. Chatbots are programmed to engage in focused conversation and, when programmed properly, can provide answers to move potential and existing customers quickly through the sales funnel. Chatbots can be expertly developed in any field and provide conversational answers to consumers, presenting a much smoother interaction than that of 1-800 robots.

Facebook’s integration of chatbots within their Messenger app allowed developers to build their own bots within the app. This provided a direct line of communication with consumers. Messenger bots are now able to respond structured messages that include images, links, and even call-to-action buttons. Customers can now order apparel, make restaurant reservations, call a Lyft, review an e-commerce order, and so much more without ever having to talk with a human.

In the near future, chatbots may become the primary way a consumer finds, buys, or peruses a potential item or service. By cutting down the amount of content needed to sift through before finding the product they want, and being able to do it all through a mobile device, consumers will quickly integrate this kind of streamlined business into their purchasing timeline.

This kind of direct customer engagement should not be underestimated. For consumer-facing business, you should take time in 2017 to develop a strategy around incorporating chatbots into an app, Messenger, or your website.

The Screen-less Internet of Things

Just as AI may make call centers obsolete, it also may make our obsession with, and constant use of, screens a thing of the past as companies continue exploring with screen-less devices that can connect to the internet and carry out services that we require of them.

These devices go beyond just our phones and computers to include cars, TVs, even washing machines, and refrigerators! AI allows for technology to adapt to us: learning our preferences and even the way we talk to be able to not only complete the action we ask but also give human-like suggestions for future actions.

Moving forward, brands will continue to make advancements using AI to better handle customer interactions, recommendations, and requests – all while gathering valuable information about customer behaviors and needs. It is difficult to quantify exactly how helpful and cost effective this kind of technology and data leveraging will be, but it’s big, and it’s going to change the way the consumer finds, buys, and uses products on nearly every level.


Stand Up NY Launches New Website: A Sleek and Modern Revolution

February 20, 2013
NEW YORK, NY — Since 1986, Stand Up NY has paved its way through warming the hearts of its audience through performances and laughter. With its open doors to the Upper West Side, it stands as one of the oldest comedy clubs in Manhattan.

“Stand Up NY as a comedy club and brand is looking forward to transitioning into the next stage of our evolution by embracing new media by giving comedy fans access and easy ways to share funny and original content. Van West Media was able to translate my vision into a beautiful deisgn and user-friendly interface.”
— Dani Zoldan 

Van West Media has created a new and improved look for Stand Up NY to represent the different aspects of the company. As we turn away from the old-fashioned gold and black palette as well as the dated typeface, we characterize Stand Up NY as refined through our new modern and clean-cut look. Through this change, we steered towards a new red and black color palette, as these colors are bold and stand out in a crowd. These colors represent the performers at Stand Up NY and how the company strives to find upcoming talent. A great feature we included that correlates with this idea is the “Open Mic” page, which allows performers to get noticed easily as they express their talents.
Not only is this look and feel of the site aesthetically pleasing, but the navigational aspects are also more user friendly. The simplified menu allows for easy navigation with self-explanatory links and pages. By placing the calendar on its own page rather than the home screen, the company is able to highlight specific acts, giving more attention to those that are presenting soon. The slideshow feature for the upcoming acts also allows users to understand that there are more artists. Users can also easily find out about acts and purchase tickets through Laughstub. Through this integration, comedians can get noticed through personal profile pages as well as show lists with tickets for audiences to purchase on the site.
Another prominent improvement we made involves social media. By integrating social media through the site, we allow the audience to feel more connected to the performers at Stand Up NY. These widgets give quick blurbs of the performers’ thoughts and ideas as well as teasers to give an idea of what’s to come for their shows. By engaging with their audience, both Stand Up NY and its performers can hear feedback from the people they wish to positively entertain. Visit the new Stand Up NY website and follow Stand Up NY on Instagram and Twitter to see for yourself!
For more information, contact Shad Mohammad at 1-718-288-2463 or

E-mail Segmentation

February 18, 2013

Customers like feeling special, like they are getting something different and better than everyone else in the world. It’s because of this that companies have steered towards personalized email, using customer names within their newsletters. E-mail segmentation appeals to clients as well as the industry itself as it sends certain information to the direct market it’s made for. By using segmentation, the customer retention rates grow as the sender understands the interests and needs of the consumer. These are some examples of e-mail segmentation companies can use to their advantage.

Source segmentation is the most straight-forward track as it tracks where and how you met your customer. By analyzing location, interests and analytics, you can check what information to send them through e-mail. If the client went to a page about web design on your site, you can send him offers you have or articles about web-design that your company comes across. This method brings consumers and marketeers closer as they show a shared interest, which makes customers feel closer to the business.

Geographic segmentation relates to the sales and trends of an area. If you are advertising heavy coats, you can weed out an audience in a hot area such as California or Las Vegas as they won’t have a need for your product. Send them e-mails about bathing suits or shorts instead and the customer retention will significantly grow. When people receive e-mails that do not pertain to them at all, they feel like another number in the world that you are trying to advertise to. Don’t make people feel that way and only send things that matter to them.

Role-based segmentation is great for B2B marketing. By sending e-mails to customers of a specific role such as sending new Photoshop information to the designer of a company will be more successful than sending it to the technician. This method is effective because more views and downloads will occur if what you have to offer will affect them, especially in regards to their jobs.

Content-interest segmentation separates existing customers from new ones. Existing recipients have more knowledge and information about your product and offers beforehand wouldn’t need a “starter guide” and would enjoy having “exclusive member access” to parts of your website. By differentiating these types of consumers, that “special” appeal is preserved and “click-through rates” will increase and lead to more conversions.

By building up several e-mail lists, each customer will receive e-mails that are relevant to their lives. Though there is no “correct” way to segment your e-mail list, each of these ways have an advantage in their own way. Just like all marketing techniques, e-mail segmentation requires testing. By experimenting through these different segmentations, your business will find the most ideal way to reach out to your audience.


Brand Marketing Through Storytelling

February 6, 2013

Regardless of age, storytelling captures the hearts and minds of an audience. Whether it’s real or fictional, the concept of brand marketing through storytelling creates room for opportunities. This approach correlates to the booming growth of social media over the past few years. Storytelling is a method that has been used for years in the marketing field but what makes the difference is the art of “writing” it. Creating a story is challenging but here are some key points to help you along the way.

Be truthful about your product. Although the storyline may be fictional, what your business can accomplish must play out the way it does in reality as it did in the story. Many marketeers use the “opportunity” approach in this method to avoid this problem while telling a creative story. They show how a consumer may use their product but don’t necessarily expect them to use it in such a manner. However, what’s expected of the business should stay consistent so consumers can expect to be pleased with the product or service offered. No one should be confused about what you have to offer.

Integrate personality into your story. Brand stories are not meant to be written as advertisements or sales pitches. They should be written in a sense that can relate to customers through experience, emotion or, in the best cases, both. A certain persona should be presented to narrate the story. If customers can’t relate to the story, it will appear boring. By incorporating a character in the story that people can root for and relate to, people will place themselves in the character’s shoes and experience what you have to offer vicariously.

Leave some mystery to the audience. By using the method of perpetual marketing, each piece of the story will feed off its previous part, leaving the audience wanting more to come. Leaving call to action at the end of the stories will instigate customers to go to the website or social media network, leading them to landing pages that may produce more sales.

Brand stories create new experiences for your consumers. It gives them a chance to participate through observation and hopefully, leave them wanting more so they purchase what you have to offer. Several stories gives consumers different ways to experience your product or service. By surrounding yourself with customers, you create several paths for them to come in contact and acknowledge your business.