Newcomer BOMA takes centre stage at Xerocon
Digital marketing tool BOMA was thrust into the spotlight at Xerocon after Xero CEO Rod Drury endorsed the unknown New Zealand entrant as one of Xero HQ’s preferred apps.
BOMA features alongside more established names such as Receipt Bank, Practice Ignition and SuiteFiles as one of Xero’s nine best-of-breed tools.
After BOMA’s sudden brand awareness boost, founder Ian Christie hailed Xerocon as the app’s “coming out party”. It was quite the debut for a company that was built around the deadline of Xero’s Melbourne event.
Recalling the “incredible” reaction the firm received in Australia, Christie said: “What we lacked was brand awareness when we got there. Two hours later we had 100% brand awareness. We essentially had people twenty deep in the stand for two days flat.”
— Valued (@ValuedGroup) October 4, 2017
How it works
The digital marketing tool sucks the client's data from Xero HQ and enables accountancy firms to share content across email and social channels using a prepared library of customisable content and images stamped with the firm’s logo.
Describing the product’s advantages for busy firms, Christie said: “[Accountants] can perform a marketing function without a marketing department. We've put the power of marketing into the hands of people who need to market but don't either have the time, skillset or money to do so.”
BOMA works in a similar way to social sharing tools like Buffer, where practitioners can select the platform through which their content is shared (eg Twitter, Facebook etc). Firms can gauge the success of their marketing through the app’s dashboard, which aggregates all the data from all the channels. “It saves you from going into Google Analytics, then going to Facebook analytics, and trying to make sense of it all,” Christie said.
Amid the machine learning buzz that fuelled the Xerocon conference, BOMA’s imminent plan is to implement an AI capability that automatically reads the data dashboard and spits back recommendations for who the user should contact, where to contact them and what content to use.
This is what BOMA has called ‘smart segment’, and is a form of AI that would remove an accounting firm’s need to create anything, except hitting a button to confirm the marketing campaign is correct.
Informed by questions from Xerocon attendees, Christie said that a scheduling aspect to the tool is currently under construction after realising a lot of firms wanted the ability to create a week’s worth of marketing activity ahead of time.
While a library of generic evergreen content, ranging from ‘discover the cloud’ to ‘protect your business from email fraud’, plugs the social responsibilities of firms, it is BOMA’s tagging system that caught the attention of Xerocon attendees looking to escalate their Xero numbers.
With the client service manager working in the background with content from Xero, the app can target specific clients, whether that’s with a wave of content for Xero customers or to nudge non-Xero clients with content that encourages them to move to the cloud.
From obscurity to Xerocon prominence
So where did it come from? Former Saatchi executive Christie, a neighbour of Drury’s in New Zealand, pitched the idea to the Xero head honcho after seeing how some of the heavyweight Silicon Valley systems were helping marketeers.
This got Christie thinking, “Why should all the big guys have access to that? Why not the little guys,” he said. “I believe technology is a democratising force. Why can't we take some of those smarts and make them available for the small guys?”
With everything around him still a digitalised version of the old direct mail, Christie capitalised on the space and equipped with the power of machine learning the New Zealander “put power in the hands of people that only large corporations currently have”.
And that was his pitch to Drury. According to Christie, Drury responded: “Where have you been all my life?”
Speaking to AccountingWEB about the moment he first heard about BOMA, Drury said: “I’m usually really sceptical, but when [Christie] showed me BOMA it really blew me away. We were thinking about trying to solve the same problems.”