December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

New software helps retailers learn all about who`s buying online---and why

(Page 3 of 3)

Because the technologies are new, many companies are still experimenting with personalization. Last year, American Airlines launched a new site featuring a highly touted personalization program for its frequent flier plan members using technology from BroadVision Inc., Redwood City, Calif. “We have a million questions we are just starting to address,” admits John R. Samuel, managing director of interactive marketing at American Airlines, Dallas. “For example, how often do you show somebody something that they haven’t clicked on? Do you quit showing it to them? If they do click on it, do you allow them to save it?”

Even so, American already is seeing benefits from its program. “What we wanted to hear from customers was that the information we are now providing is relevant and more useful,” Samuel says. “Our top-tier members come back to the site once a week. We think it means they are receiving useful information.”

CDnow/N2K has enjoyed sales from a personalization program that sends highly targeted e-mail to people who have asked to be notified when certain new compact discs come out. Up to 30% of those recipients return to the site to buy the CD, Pakman says. “The measurable benefits are in the form of a better relationship with the customers,” he adds. “Our customers come back more often and are more satisfied.”

Customers like the attention personalization technologies offer, says Backyard Nature’s Marc Lemke. “They want to know someone is on the other end taking care of them.”

MargaretAnn Cross is a business writer in Allentown, Pa.

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