January 24, 2002, 12:00 AM

Target marketing is the new reality for online retailers

Be Free and Coremetrics are teaming up to provide a more precise approach to attracting, retaining and analyzing customers online. "We no longer want to speak to everyone online,” says SmartBargains.com.


It used to be that online retailers would throw banners and e-mails everywhere and see if they attracted customers, reasoning that people who were online would be likely to buy online. But no more. Today’s market requires the same kind of precise marketing that retailers in the real world employ. "We no longer want to speak to everyone online,” says Ben Fischman, executive vice president of strategic development at SmartBargains.com. “Having the best of affiliate marketing and the best of the analytical tools is a huge opportunity to do that."

Be Free Inc., a marketing platform for attracting and retaining customers, and Coremetrics, a customer analysis technology provider, hope that a partnership they recently formed to run performance-based marketing programs will help online retailers target prospective customers better. The partnership will allow companies using Be Free performance-based marketing programs to enhance measurement and analysis with Coremetrics products.

"Be Free gives online merchants the ability to put their offers within the context of other web sites and Coremetrics gives the merchants the power to see right away how their affiliate marketing is paying off," says Gordon Hoffstein, CEO of Be Free. "Prior to this deal, we just dropped the online shopper off at the merchant site."

Jon Squire, vice president of business develop at Coremetrics, says a key to its technology is to evaluate the lifetime value of a customer. "We are able to collect data with global cookies for the lifetime of the web visitor," he says. "We put that into a data warehouse, which allows the merchant to see how its site is being navigated as shoppers are coming in through the affiliate platforms from Be Free. It’s all happening at the same time."

Be Free and Coremetrics will develop a module that integrates Be Free’s BFAST partner marketing service with Coremetrics’ eLuminate Commerce marketing analytics solution. The two products combined will better analyze such elements as customer acquisition costs, customer retention costs and the lifetime value of customers. Ultimately, the companies say the combined product will give clients a more thorough view of their ROI for affiliate and performance-based marketing programs offered by Be Free.

SmartBargains.com, which has used both Coremetrics and Be Free, says the integrated product will help streamline its marketing evaluations. "What we were finding was that we had a great system for analyzing customers and sales with Coremetrics and a great marketing platform with Be Free. But the challenge was those two systems never worked together and it was difficult to see where we should be spending our marketing dollars," Fischman says. "The marriage between the two products is a no-brainer." Fischman expects the long term impact to help SmartBargains dramatically lower acquisition costs as the web site targets consumers more precisely.

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