SmartSite Shows Marketers the Future

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The concept of one-to-one marketing is becoming a reality as Web sites are linked with databases and variable data digital printing by services like SmartSite, which will be unveiled by Webcraft Direct Marketing at the DMA's fall show in San Francisco.

Webcraft can build a marketing Web site or implement SmartSite on a client's existing Web site to collect preferences from customers and prospects seeking product information or to gather specifications from resellers and other distributors designing marketing campaigns. SmartSite automates the entire marketing process from data collection through fulfillment.

Webcraft, a subsidiary of Big Flower Holdings, New York, will use database capabilities from its IMPCO division, digital printing from ColorStream Technologies and some Web design from LaserTech to implement SmartSite solutions.

"Big Flower is always asking how can we leverage our capabilities. This is really a part of that," said Tim Graves, vice president of new business development at ColorStream.

Customers visiting a site enter information -- such as their interests and contact data -- into a text field. The information is accumulated in a text file and shipped electronically to a database that forms a profile and then onto a digital printing system that builds a customized direct mail piece targeted to the customer's interests.

SmartSite includes a DirectConnect feature that lets customers with a microphone and speakers at their desktop click a button on a Web site and be connected with a customer service representative or interactive voice response system.

For BTB purposes, resellers choose from a variety of marketing plans and customization features listed on a site. Specifications then are sent to a database that selects the specified design templates and forwards them to a digital printer for production. SmartSite sends back an e-mail to the business partner to verify the order and gain approval to begin the print production process.

Resellers also can make selections from the SmartSite database to construct mailing lists. SmartSite populates its database with data from Polk, Acxiom, First Data Solutions and Metromail.

Webcraft has done programs in the past that draw on combinations of the Web, databases and digital printing, but SmartSite represents the first linkage of all three. The company is scheduled to roll out a program for Whirlpool later this month that uses a toll-free number rather than the Web to gather customer information.

"People are becoming more interested in the Web channel because there are starting to be some successes selling products and building relationships with customers," Graves said. "From a digital printing perspective, the Web enables you to have that dialogue with the customer and, based on that conversation, change your marketing efforts."

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