Digital Marketing: demystifying the new trends and techniques

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Written By: Gerry Brown
Published: 22nd May, 2008
Content Copyright © 2008 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

Omniture is the self-appointed king of digital marketing. It has acquired other competitors in the space (e.g. VisualSciences, Offermatica, Touch Clarity), and is ambitious and aggressive. Josh James is their 34-year-old founder and CEO. Apparently he has 5 children and is probably the most likely man to say “sleep is for wimps!”. He addressed a young and enthusiastic audience of 500 open-necked Ad agency types in London last month.

Josh talks fast and straight from the hip. With $143m in annual revenues and 1,000+ employees Omniture is “3–4 times larger than our next competitor and growing 2–3 times faster”. Well, growth for Q1 2008 was 117%. Omniture’s 4,400 customers include Argos, John Lewis, BA, BT, and Vodaphone. Omniture also supports pure-play digital businesses such as lastminute.com, Opodo, and Expedia. Omniture sells 3 product categories and a platform:

  1. Reporting & Analytics (SiteCatalyst, Discover)
  2. Marketing Campaign Management (SearchCenter)
  3. Conversion (Test&Target)
  4. A platform for partner applications integration (Genesis)—a bit like salesforce.com’s AppsExchange

So what are the applications for digital marketing? Best Buy (the US electronics retailer) identifies that the Canon 1.07MP Digital Camcorder is often being viewed on its web site, and instructs its retail stores to place the product where customers can find it quickly and easily. Need help when you are on the Best Buy web site? Press the “click to talk by PC” button. Some call centres can now ‘see’ you visiting their web site, and can send you an IM message “do you need any help?”

If you buy a Sony Vaio you enter a flight path of friendly emails that inform you at carefully staged intervals where you can, for example, buy extra batteries, or remind you to renew your warranty. Email marketing for add-on sales and customer retention rather than new customer acquisition in other words.

BT identify when and where their web site visitors get fed up and abandon their shopping carts. They also use A / B Multi-variant testing. This means emailing out 2 or 3 versions of an advert or promotion to a test market. One has a picture of a pretty girl on it, one doesn’t. One has a free trial promotion and one doesn’t. BT then measures the stats e.g. number of opened emails, resulting visits to BT’s micro-site, resulting sales orders etc. The test version with the best response wins and is rolled out for a national campaign. As a result BT reckons sales order conversion rate is up by 5%.

OK, so understanding how customers and potential customer behave on your web site is interesting, but hardly earth-shattering. What is more interesting is what happens if you connect your customer data warehouse to activity on your web site, and to how customers respond to your email campaigns. Then you can overlay behavioural data (e.g. what click paths people make on your web site) against the demographic, socio-economic and geographic customer profiles in your data warehouse.

Marrying up real-time customer digital behaviour with customer profile data is the holy grail for digital marketers. This enables highly targeted real-time marketing campaigns based on both what customers are doing and what they look like e.g. “let’s run a sales promotion email campaign to 35–45 year-old professional males, with families, based in North London, earning more than £40,000 pa who have viewed the Canon 1.07MP Digital Camcorder on our web site in the last 2 weeks”. The benefit messages crafted for such a targeted audience should be pretty compelling, and should co-incide exactly with the timing of customer purchasing intentions. Powerful stuff.

The truth is that digital marketing has a long way to go just yet. The applications outlined above are just scratching the surface of the possibilities. When McKinsey spoke about trends in digital marketing at Internetworld earlier this month the queue was so long you would have thought it was a Take That concert. So the audience is ready and willing.

Omniture have positioned themselves at the forefront of digital marketing market developments. I believe it has the traction and the ambition to become a $1Bn company in the future. Even some competitors grudgingly admit that Omniture has re-invigorated a faltering dot com CRM market. Exciting times.

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