The marriage of database marketing tools and Web 2.0 has enabled marketing services providers to deliver application programming interface (API) analytics solutions as well as software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings. For marketers that means new options that save them time, labor, and aggravation when analyzing data.
For one thing, with Web-based solutions, you don’t have to load and maintain software — everything is uploaded to a password-protected host server.
And when a new version of the data analytic tool comes out, it is uploaded directly to the host server, so that the update automatically rolls out to all users. No longer do you have to wait for a CD-ROM to arrive or upload a system update from the Web to reap the benefits.
Also, Web-based systems generally offer more flexibility than out-of-the-box software packages. Generally speaking, you walk through a few screens to set up the look and flow of the program, hit a few toggles to turn on and off options that are best suited for the task at hand, securely upload data into the system, and presto! You receive your results in real time instead of having to wait hours or even days.
“It’s an automated service with an automated process,” says Sal Pecoraro, vice president of database marketing solutions for infoUSA National Accounts (formerly Donnelly Marketing). A division of Omaha, NE-based data and services provider infoUSA, InfoUSA National Accounts has been using these APIs for several years. Clients “don’t have to worry about it,” Pecoraro says. “They just turn it on and work in the background.”
Within the past year a number of analytics services providers have upgraded their offerings to include more Web-based functions and solutions. Below are a handful of the new and notable.
Claritas ConsumerPoint 4.0
Marketers that already segment their files and mailings are quick to see the benefits of using Web-based analytic tools, says Jason Norfolk, director of product management for San Diego-based software provider Claritas. “Trying to get to a client that hasn’t used segmentation is a more difficult sell,” he says. “You have to sell on segmentation first, then you can evangelize.”
Among the features that Claritas added to the 4.0 release of its ConsumerPoint segmentation software was the capability to provide seamless integration of the Claritas data warehouse with customer databases. This capability is housed within the profile creation utility, a feature introduced in ConsumerPoint 3.0 that provides a three-step process for creating customer profiles from a raw customer file.
With ConsumerPoint 4.0, released last November, users can read directly from multiple file types and more-sophisticated database architectures, such as Oracle and Microsoft SQL. “This means clients can quickly summarize their customer databases to create and import the behavioral profiles and geo-summarized data that are essential for customer analysis projects,” says Norfolk.
Products such as ConsumerPoint 4.0 can average $35,000 a seat and range in price per seat from $20,000 to $100,000, depending on the data inputs. But the end user does has many data sources and segments to pick and choose from. “The data is like a buffet, but the user has to pick at least one segmentation or the service will be useless,” Norfolk says.
Alterian Marketing Suite
Boardroom, a publisher/direct marketer of financial books and newsletters, evaluated three or four Web-based data analytic tools before choosing Alterian Marketing Suite in April 2006. Bruce Reznik, director of database marketing for Boardroom, credits the tools with enabling the company to save more than $100,000 last year by enabling him to mail smarter.
The software that Boardroom previously used had strict rules — difficult if not impossible to reprogram — regarding which names qualified for mailing. If a prospect for a campaign qualified in universe number one of the software but not universe number two, the name was considered mailable. But if it qualified only in universe number two, the software rejected the name. The more flexible Alterian solution enables Stamford, CT-based Boardroom to mail to prospects in an “and/or” environment as opposed to an “or else” one.
“We now have more of a chance of mailing to a good name than we have in the past,” Reznik says. “We’re finding more names that are profitable to mail to. We have confidence in the tool and knowing that we selected the right names. If we have the wrong names, we can see that immediately.”
In December, Chicago-based Alterian upgraded Marketing Suite to include the full functionality of Dynamic Messenger, its Web 2.0 e-mail and online marketing application gained through the acquisition of Dynamics Direct earlier in 2006. The new offering, the company says, merges traditional database marketing operations such as data modeling, segmentation, selection, and analysis with online marketing execution in a single application and workflow. Before then, database marketing and online marketing tasks were performed independently and typically executed by multiple applications with limited collaboration between systems, resulting in cumbersome workflows and added costs.
Mature Data Profiles
Released in October, Mature Data Profiles is a segmentation system that helps marketers reach and communicate with baby boomers and senior more effectively. This analytical tool segments consumers born before 1965 into 34 clusters (from “strapped seniors” to “rich retirees”) based on purchasing power, behavior, lifestyle choices, life stage, demographic attributes, socio-economic status, and attitudes. The solution links to the AmeriLINK National Consumer Database from Richardson, TX-based KnowledgeBase Marketing, which partnered with New York-based JWT Mature Market Group to create the product.
In January, Acxiom Corp. announced the latest innovation in the Personicx family of household-level segmentation tools: Personicx MarketScape-X, a Web-based mapping and segmentation analysis tool.
Personicx MarketScape-X is designed to give clients access to meaningful, actionable marketing information, along with reporting and segmentation tools to power their customer and market analysis. The system places a library of information, including consumer surveys outlining behaviors and attitudes, location characteristics for all domestic markets, and the client’s own Personicx-coded customers or prospects, at the user’s fingertips. Personicx is a household-level segmentation system that places U.S. households into one of 70 segments and 21 life-stage groups based upon specific consumer behavior and demographic characteristics.
Because Personicx MarketScape-X is Web-based, all authorized users have continuous access to the application. Users do not have to manage software upgrade issues because there is no client or server software to install.
Highlands Ranch, CO-based marketing database company Dovetail modified the analysis module of its Dovetail application in September. The analysis module allows users to define their own business rules to select criteria to learn more about their customers or prospects. Once they have found a specific group of individuals they want to include in a direct marketing campaign, they can simply highlight the cells and add the criteria to the list builder module, which creates a list for their marketing campaign.
“Previously this functionality has only been available from providers that offer database services to very large catalogers — not the smaller, midsize catalogers,” says Deb Lupo, Dovetail’s marketing manager.
Dovetail also added a module that allows its clients to access their marketing database via their browser. ROI analysis allows users to pull up a list from a direct marketing campaign to perform a variety of analyses and determine ROI for the campaigns.