Startup YesPath launches AI-driven platform that automatically targets marketing content

Headed by two ex-Salesforce execs, new San Francisco-based company wants to help automate the marketing side of building relationships.

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Bit by bit, artificial intelligence is coming to marketing software, so that marketers can focus less on clicking through setups and more on making broad strategic decisions.

Today at our MarTech conference, 2015-founded startup YesPath is announcing its first product, the AI-powered ABM (Account-Based Marketing) platform. It is designed to automate segmentation for the targeting of accounts and people within those accounts, initially through website content and eventually through other channels, like email or ads.

CEO and co-founder Jason Garoutte told me that he and co-founder Brian Zotter were frustrated during their time as Salesforce VP of Product Marketing and VP of Engineering, respectively, because the sales department complained they needed a more targeted approach for each lead.

Garoutte said sales told him, “The most important thing is to develop a relationship with influencers” at the targeted accounts. The kind of content that marketing was offering, they said, was targeted at large groups of similar people, via manual rules set by marketing.

“We wanted to make it easier for one-to-one relationships,” he said.

With YesPath, a site inserts some JavaScript into its header, the site’s content is tagged according to topics and the cloud-based platform automatically presents questions and content to the user according to a continuously updated profile on that visitor.

On first visit, for instance, a visitor whose cookie or mobile identifier is linked to a profile is served according to that profile. The profile has been assembled from such sources as the site’s existing customer relationship management system, plus intent data from provider Bombora that indicates, for example, this visitor has looked at pages about conferencing equipment on other sites.

YesPath serves up some questions to further refine this visitor’s profile, such as: “Does your company use video conferencing room systems?” If the clicked answer is yes, the site can offer specific content and offers on video conferencing room systems, and the profile is further refined to inform the next visit.

The basic idea, Garoutte said, is that the “you upload our content, it’s tagged,” you just turn on the self-learning system, and go.

The content/offers are directed at similar groups of users, but Zotter pointed out that these groups are “very fine grained” and targeted. Content is matched to each account, and then to each type of persona in each account. Here is a screen showing topics of interest in a given account:

YesPath screen

In its announcement, YesPath compared its approach to Facebook’s, where an intelligent algorithm determines the content in each user’s news feed. YesPath’s platform is just now emerging from beta, during which time it has been utilized by such testers as Blue Jeans Network and MongoDB.

There are no stats yet, Garoutte told me, about whether YesPath’s approach works better than others’. By contrast, he noted that Demandbase, Marketo and others require marketers to set up rules.

YesPath is part of a new crop of companies employing computer intelligence to automatically handle some of the day-to-day operational tasks that marketers have been doing.

Predictive lead scorer Mintigo, for instance, announced late last year that it was moving beyond lead scoring to predictive driving of marketing campaigns, by automatically selecting what its platform considered the next best message, offer, channel and timing to turn a prospect into a customer. An integrated marketing automation platform is then instructed to do the work.

Garoutte, whose previous lives included a stint as Mintigo’s chief marketing officer, told us that “Mintigo is building something that will optimize click-rates on nurture emails by picking content.”

“In contrast,” he said, “we’re helping marketers reach thousands of influencers even before they give an email address.”

Similarly, startup Mariana announced earlier this month that it is employing a kind of artificial intelligence to automatically create personas that can then be used to pinpoint the most important decision-makers in an account.

A key consideration in account-based marketing is the fact that many corporate buying decisions are made by a committee, which is driven by a few key individuals — but the trick is finding the right person. After identifying the person, Mariana then helps to direct promoted content to them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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