Dreamforce 2017 – TomTom’s journey towards smarter, automated marketing


Traffic navigation company TomTom has implemented Salesforce Marketing Cloud to get a better understanding of its customers and to provide them with relevant content.

TomTom’s consumer business is famous worldwide for its navigation devices. However, over the years, it has expanded its product portfolio, and with that has come challenges around how it understands and communicates with its customers.

Customers, instead of just owning one product, may now own multiple TomTom products that serve different needs. However, the company’s legacy systems required that customers set up a new account for each individual product they bought, creating a siloed view and a fractured communication approach for TomTom.

Remko Strik, Director Digital & CRM at TomTom, has embarked on a journey to fix this – where he has implemented Salesforce Marketing Cloud to get a single view of the customer, with the aim of providing them with automated, relevant and smarter content.

I got the chance to speak with Strik at Dreamforce in San Francisco this week, where he explained the company’s marketing achievements and ambitions, which have resulted in impressive upticks in engagement. He said:

Previously, if you had two products you had to create two different accounts. If you wind back ten years, we only had one product, so it was quite logical at the time.

But to fix this we started a project called One TomTom ID, where we decided to really put the customer at the centre of everything we do. But as you can imagine, that required massive investments in backend legacy systems. Very boring, but very needed to do that.

Strik explained that TomTom wanted to have three approaches to customer communication. Firstly, TomTom wanted to be relevant for the customer, providing information that the customer finds interesting. Secondly, TomTom wanted to adopt a multi-channel approach, interacting with the customer where they wanted to be contacted. Thirdly, it wanted to be timely – providing information when it was useful for the customer – not too soon or too late.

To achieve this, TomTom needed new systems. Strik explained:

If you want to do things differently, you can either go to the CEO and ask for a million Euros. Or you can try to figure it out yourself. I believe that you have to try to absorb these changes yourselves. Be creative.

So we put out an RFP to replace our previous CRM system, which was Oracle. It was a good platform, we had been using it for many years, but because of the recognition that we needed to change, we needed to invest stuff in our data model and that was a good opportunity to invest in a new system.

We chose Salesforce Marketing Cloud and implemented that. When you implement a new system and if you dare to let go of old processes, then you liberate yourself from legacy processes.

Salesforce enabled TomTom to implement automated marketing. For example, when a customer sets up an account, this creates a trigger and the customer automatically gets an email thanking them. This basic level of automation reduced TomTom’s cost per campaign by 41% and boosted engagement by 45%.


Having implemented Salesforce, and introduced a new level of automation, Strik and his team wanted to adopt a new approach to multi-channel communication. Previously where email had ruled supreme, Strik wanted to communicate with customers where they wanted to be receive information. However, this change required getting buy-in from the organisation. Strik said:

Multi-channel sounds easy, and if you listen to a presentation on Marketing Cloud you would think it is easy. It’s not easy. But that’s not because of marketing cloud, it’s because of the internal processes, internal stakeholders, you need to make technical integrations. So it’s quite a lot of hard work to enable multi-channel.

We wanted to do low-tech multi-channel campaign, so we started by sending an email or a letter. That was very successful, as you create a level of excitement in the organisation. People that previously thought they wanted to do an email campaign, now see that it’s about what we want to communicate with the customer and what channel is useful for them.

Want to move away from a ‘social campaign’ or an ‘email campaign’ – no, you have something to tell to the customer and my team will help you to bring that message to the customer through the channels.

Getting smarter

The final element of TomTom’s strategy towards better customer engagement focused on smarter campaigns – introducing artificial intelligence. Strik and his team assessed Salesforce’s offering – Einstein – but felt that it wasn’t able to provide it with the capabilities that it needed, so decided to build its own AI system in-house using open source tools. Strik said:

We wanted smart multi-channel campaigning. If a customer walked in the door now, what would I offer you? We have 50 products, which one of these am I going to offer? The one with the highest discount? The one with the highest margin? No, we want to do it based on the profile of the customer. That’s what is called next best action.

That is an AI solution, but artificial intelligence is a container term, it’s not really specific to a purpose. But next best action is. So we looked at Einstein, but we concluded that Einstein at this moment cannot do that yet. So we decided to build it ourselves using open source. We know at any given point of time what the most relevant topic for the customer is.

And the results? Strik added:

We over delivered. On trigger emails, which we are implementing, we now have a dedicated person in the team solely focusing on marketing automation, has a 45% higher engagement than normal campaigns. A 53% higher open rate and a 115% higher click through rate. I am satisfied but it’s not finished yet. Every campaign can be optimised, so the journey never ends.

However, Strik warned that despite these successes, organisations undertaking a similar project should be prepared to prioritise what they want to do with the extra time and money they accrue as a result of smarter, automated marketing. He said:

You think, wow, you’ve got a lot of time to do other stuff now. But we were unable to protect that space with doing new things. Eventually, the result of 41% lower cost per campaign was that we did 46% more campaigns. This was a challenge, a learning and a disappointment. If you’re going to create space, you need to be ready to fill that up with other stuff. And that’s quite difficult, that was more difficult than I anticipated.

Image credit - Image sourced via TomTom website

Disclosure - Salesforce is a diginomica premier partner at time of writing.