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Bleep, bloop. “Hallo, mein name ist Pepper.” Step into Future Candy’s office in Hamburg, Germany, and this is how a sleek, white humanoid receptionist—named, you guessed it, Pepper—might greet you.

Besides stealing human hearts, the robot plays an important role within Future Candy, an innovation agency that specializes in digital transformation. That’s because Pepper makes an appearance at their keynote speeches that explain technology trends such as artificial intelligence—and how companies can embrace these tools to boost their businesses.

Or, as their site puts it, they “live the future on the stage.”

During each session, enthused audience members literally toss their business cards for Future Candy to scoop up so that they can stay in touch. But despite the wild popularity of their keynotes, something was off for the quickly growing agency. They needed help engaging all of the leads they were creating without overwhelming their sales team.

So they approached Finc3, which was conveniently also nestled in beautiful Hamburg.

Building a dream team

Finc3 got its start when Bjoern Sjut, Jan Bechler, and Tim Nedden were completing their MBAs at Hamburg Media School and realized they work well as a team. (Fun fact: The name comes from “Finkenau,” the street on which the business school is located, plus the number of the agency’s co-founders.) But they didn’t form the company straight out of school.

“We wanted some longer-term experience in larger companies first,” Bjoern explains. “One of the main reasons [we] actually founded the company at the end of 2011 was that we said, ‘We’ll probably regret not having founded a company when we’re retired.’”



Although the team didn’t quite have an idea yet, they did know they wanted to collaborate on something. “We always felt that the team has a bigger impact on the success of a startup than the idea,” Bjoern says. “That’s why we’ve founded Finc3 to be a ‘cash flow-driven incubator.’ We’ve designed it to be able to bootstrap digital business models, prototype and test them, and, if successful, scale them—potentially with external capital.”

And so Finc3 blossomed into a 45-person consulting boutique to help reputable media and e-commerce companies grow their business. Not only have they started product and service endeavors, their daughter company, BizMut, focuses on B2B performance marketing as well.

When Future Candy approached them, Finc3 had to think creatively to figure out how to follow up with all the future leads they were generating offline.

To determine the next steps, they’d have to focus on the present.

Bringing the past up to speed

While business cards are a handy networking tool, offline leads are not the most convenient when it comes to updating your digital Rolodex. Because people were primarily signing up to keep up with Future Candy at trade shows and during keynote speeches, Finc3 had to bring a tradition of the past up to current digital standards.

“We did a short project with them where we installed a process on automatically scanning the cards and getting the data into MailChimp,” says Janine Hummel, CRM Manager for Finc3.

That process involves a desktop software program called ScanSnap iX500, which scans the business cards at scale, then uses Power Query within Microsoft Excel to automatically clean up the data. Then, the team imports the contacts into MailChimp, tagging each person with the event they attended.

With all their data in one place, Future Candy now has a powerful tool at their disposal: marketing automation.

Scaling off-net leads

Because their clients were not signing up via the web, Future Candy was having a difficult time connecting with them.

“Future Candy is kind of a special case because what they offer is more or less consulting for the future,” Janine says. “A lot of the services they have are kind of hard to explain.”

To help keep their consultancy brand top of mind, and because Finc3 has always believed that personalization is a key driver to email marketing success, they established an onboarding email automation series to introduce clients who attended Future Candy’s high-tech keynotes to their other offerings such as consulting, events, and workshops.


They built one email to trigger each service. The first, for example, is triggered a day after the user joins the list—then they receive an email every week after that.

Future Candy also offers a product service called Tech Flat, which Bjoern explains is like the Netflix DVD-by-mail model, except with hardware. Companies can subscribe to Tech Flat and get a curated set of gadgets (3D printers, virtual reality goggles, etc.) to rent. They keep the gadget as long as they’d like, and then return it to receive a new one. “The automation has helped them to drive interest in this service,” Bjoern says.

The introductory series also boasts high open rates: The average results for the automations are a 58% open rate and nearly 12% click rate, but the best-performing email has a nearly 76% open rate and 26% click rate.

To further leverage traffic to Future Candy’s site, Finc3 has helped them implement a pop-up form as well as a few landing pages to collect more leads. Using simple templates, the agency can then showcase their services or give visitors an easy way to join their list.

Melding the old with the new

If you meet a lot of new clients at trade fairs, conferences, or any other business card hubs, you might not be fully capitalizing on those leads. Here are 3 easy ways to join old-school networking with a more futuristic approach:

Use MailChimp’s marketing automation.

They’re free, and best of all, they reach the right audience with the right message at the right time. “Stay in touch at scale and qualify leads for actually reaching out by measuring their interest in different topics through the open and click tracking,” Bjoern advises.

Segment your lists into event names to personalize your message.

“Relevance and context are core concepts to drive successful results,” Bjoern says. That’s why there need to be dimensions in the MailChimp list (i.e. the event name where you’ve met the client) that can be referenced to in the merge tag (i.e. use “acquisition event name” to build sentences like, “We’ve recently met at *|ACQUISITION_EVENT_NAME|* and I wanted to make sure that you have everything you need from us…”), he explains.

Leverage other MailChimp tools.

Try Facebook ads or Google remarketing ads to sync customer segments and advertise to them beyond email. With these services, you can reach new audiences or recapture the attention of people who leave your site, all in just a few steps.