What sets us apart in the industry and what about our plans for the future? An interview with Managing Director Hein Hofman by Ticketing Business Forum.
There’s nothing we like better at the Forum than finding industry disruptors, nurturing innovation, and supporting new businesses in their quest to break the international market.
The very clever folk at We Cross joined the Forum in 2017 to do just that… and even went home with an Award to recognise their fantastic solution. We caught up with Managing Director, Hein Hofman.
It was great to have We Cross with us at the Forum, can you tell us a little about what you do within the industry?
We Cross is the first complete marketing cloud application for event organisations. It makes data-driven marketing accessible, simple and action-oriented. The application gives organisations access to all the innovative tools they need to gain an insight into the audience, campaigns and activities. We Cross integrates marketing tools used by organisations on a daily basis and can connect with virtually any ticket software. This new standard in marketing software allows your organisation to work efficiently every day and with a clear understanding of the essence: addressing a larger audiences and their activities. Use of this unique “turnkey” application means that there is no need for any other (expensive) marketing tools, complex integrations and consultants. This saves marketers a considerable amount of time and allows them to “really” respond to the needs of the audience. The application includes visual dashboards, a data warehouse (CRM), campaign management and project management.
How long ago was the company founded? Is there a story behind it?
The company We Cross was founded in 2008 as an online agency for the cultural sector. We predominantly created a lot of websites and campaigns, as well as providing training. In 2014, following a change in management, we decided to focus more on developing our own product instead of one-off customisation. This is mainly because we recognised the need of most of our customers to gain more from data and online marketing. Until this point, our customers were often faced with a choice of either an expensive or a long-term project. We believe that this is much simpler in a self-service solution! No more complex, long projects using IT consultants to integrate different systems, no more hiring agencies to take care of online advertising and no more expensive analysts for customised reports that end up in a drawer after being read once.
Do you remember your very first customer? Did it go well?
The initial integration is always very tense, and yes, it doesn’t always work perfectly first time. This was discussed well in advance with the first group of users. They have shown real courage and a great deal of trust in us as a company and in our application – and for that we are very grateful to them.
What’s been your strongest area of growth? Were there any surprises there?
We made investment in the Event Marketing Cloud ourselves – in accordance with the bootstrapping method. This involes a lot of hard work, but also provides plenty of freedom. In the beginning, each new organisation that joined meant a new link to another ticketing system; this always involved the required endeavour. We are now connected to many different ticket systems, including Ticketmaster, Ticketscript, SRO, Paylogic, Ticketmatic, Active Tickets and Pro venue / tickets.com.
You hadn’t attended before – how did you hear about the Forum?
I have been following the forum for the last three years – I probably noticed it on social media. But in the last six months I’ve received lots of tips from partners saying that this is “the place to be” for We Cross.
Why did you feel the Forum was the right platform to showcase your product/service?
We have been active on the Dutch market with our new product since 2014. We want to excel in smart technical capabilities and that’s why we are continuing to heavily invest in development. This means it is essential for us to make the step from a national to an international corporation. What’s more, we believe that our application is more than capable of achieving international success. We don’t want our development to be limited by borders between countries. In order to give substance to our ambition of continuously developing, we have doubled the capacity of our team in recent months. We believe that the TheTicketingBusiness Forum was the perfect place to launch our product on an international scale. Our forward-looking potential users are behind our idea, as well as many interested partners in the form of ticketing software providers. We have a very interesting proposition for both of them.
We love nurturing innovation at the Forum, what sets your product apart in the industry?
There is no other system that combines analysis, project management and campaign management into a single product especially for events. A generic CRM system or analysis dashboard is often used, but an event is not an e-commerce business – it has very specific characteristics. An event takes place at a fixed time, there are fixed stock tickets and you often get to decide yourself what is put on the stage. This is different to, for example, selling as many dishwashers as possible! When you’re selling such a product, you know that the buyer will also need a hose and that they might also want to purchase an extended warranty after one year. The specific nature of an event therefore also demands a different approach!
We connect with all the existing systems already used by an organisation. Google Analytics, tag manager, AdWords, as well as with the ticketing system, Facebook and Twitter. The CRM system and email marketing system is integrated into our product. This means that we are able to fulfil the promise of real one-on-one marketing. Thanks to us, you don’t just send one newsletter to 10,000 people, instead at the press of a button you can send 10,000 personalised emails. This works by adapting our algorithms optimally to the wishes of the recipient, as well as perfectly adapting them to match the sender’s goals. This allows us, for example, to automatically put more attention on events that are not selling well than events that are almost sold out
What future developments do you have plans for?
We want to work hard to simplify all the processes involved in marketing. Our next step is machine learning and predictive analytics which considers both predicting the course of the sale and also automating and improving online campaigns.
We are currently working on festivals, cinemas, theatres and concert halls. This offers a broad audience, especially internationally, though there still a huge amount of room for realising our ambitions to grow. Yet we’re looking even further – one logical next step to take is to also focus on organisers of sporting events.
Congratulations on your Award! How does it feel to have won the CRM Data Tool Award for 2017?
After years of experience in – and a relentless passion for – the event business and a major drive for innovation in the field of online applications, we have made it our mission to make marketing technology accessible and affordable for organizations of any size. Winning an international award within a year is a great recognition for us.
We were very proud to even have been nominated in our relatively short existence.” It also shows us that we are on the right track, and motivates us greatly to work even harder for our (potential) customers.