August 30, 2004, 12:00 AM

Rising Above Spam

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It`s also experimenting with a way to lure back shoppers who abandoned a shopping cart after having browsed for a product that was out of stock. "We`ll automatically send them an e-mail telling them that the product will be in stock in two weeks and that we`ll give them free shipping if they wait instead of going somewhere else," McCall says.

The latest version of Omniture`s Site Catalyst starts at under $20,000 per year as a hosted application, Mellor says.

Sending automated e-mails requires marketers to first set business rules that can trigger messages based on particular sets of shopping behavior. The technical process of setting rules is designed to be simple to learn, particularly for marketers accustomed to working with clickstream data, experts say. Petco`s Blank notes that her personal experience in site analytics let her begin using her Coremetrics application immediately, and that her staff learned the system in a half-day training course.

Finding the right mix

The most challenging part of using site analytics and e-mail is finding the best combinations of segmented customer data with the most effective e-mail creative for marketing to them and getting them to buy, experts say.

Effective marketers will use A/B testing procedures with different combinations of e-mail messages targeting different segments of shoppers, Omniture`s Mellor says. A typical A/B testing project might be tied to a campaign of e-mail messages promoting a digital camera to shoppers who abandoned a similar product in a shopping cart and also purchased other electronic products in the past month. The test would direct half of respondents to a page offering a discount purchase price and the other half to a page offering free shipping.

But combining site analytics with e-mail programs also presents the challenge of deciding which segmented customer groups to test, experts say. "One scary thing is that we can get so much data that we can get lost in it," says Blank.

Petco plans to go live this month with LIVEmail from Coremetrics integrated with a Responsys e-mail campaign management system. One way Blank expects to narrow down her marketing options is to use Coremetrics site analytics data to determine how long it usually takes particular segments of shoppers to convert to buyers. "If I know a certain type of customer who abandoned a cart is likely to come back and buy later the same day, I won`t send that type of customer a post-abandonment e-mail until days later," she says. "As time goes on, we`ll learn to adjust delivery dates by product category."

Petco has used the Responsys e-mail system for about two years, and earned a return on its investment within the first three months, Blank says. That gives her confidence that using Responsys with integrated clickstream data from Coremetrics will also earn a quick ROI. "My hope is that we`ll earn an ROI in the first three to six months," she says. The cost of running LIVEmail includes a set-up fee ranging from $2,000 to $3,000, plus a monthly hosting fee of $2,000 or more, depending on the volume of data a site carries, Squire says.

Prompting registration

In addition to testing and finding the right mixture of customer segments and e-mail promotions, Blank says, is the challenge of getting more shoppers to register on "The main challenge is getting shoppers to do something to identify themselves, because they have to be logged in to be tracked by Coremetrics," she says. Petco entices shoppers to register with a free bag of pet food with the purchase of 10 bags and by sponsoring a pet Halloween costume contest with shoppers voting for winners. Petco requires photo contributors and voters to register to receive e-mail.

CompactAppliance hadn`t done much e-mail marketing before implementing the Virtual Commerce Master application from Manticore Technology last year, Roussos says. "We weren`t doing e-mail marketing before VCM, but now we can set up a rule that says, if a customer buys a trash compactor, we automatically send them an e-mail 60 days later offering a promotion on compactor trash bags." The application, which is served on a hosted basis, starts at about $2,000 per month, covering 250,000 page views and 50,000 e-mails for combined analysis and marketing efforts, he says. The application also allows CompactAppliance to monitor and analyze multiple marketing campaigns, including Internet search keyword campaigns, online banner ads and e-mailed promotions.

With marketing based on integrated site analytics and e-mail campaigns still at the head of the curve, retailers will continue to find ways of capitalizing on it. And because the technology is designed to be user-friendly for marketing managers without the help of IT experts, it will evolve further as more managers get involved with it, experts say. "As we get better with using these tools, each business manager will have more insight into what`s happening," GSI`s McCall says.




Marketing analytics is for search campaigns as well


While e-mail marketers are integrating analytics into their offerings, other marketers are doing the same. Search engine marketing company Oneupweb, for instance, in July introduced a marketing analytics tool that lets retailers and marketers track results of their online marketing campaigns, including pay-per-click keyword buys on search engines, e-mail campaigns, banner ads and affiliate marketing. The product is aimed squarely at better understanding of marketing results. "This is an analytics tool for users of search marketing, it`s not a full-blown analytics tool," says Lisa Wehr, president. "It`s a measure of all the marketing things that cost you cash."

The product--ROI Trax--was launched a year ago to existing clients with little fanfare and has undergone refinement since then; the company is rolling it out to the rest of the market now and will offer it as a stand-alone product separate from the other search engine marketing functions that Oneupweb provides, Wehr says. Its metrics include responses, click-throughs, conversions, sales, cost per click, ROI for campaigns and other measurements that retailers want.

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