Firms Claim to Pinpoint Shoppers Primed to Buy

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Turning online browsers into buyers is a difficult process, but two companies claim to be able to easily deliver qualified buyers who are ready to purchase. Both use similar, but proprietary, matching technologies to deliver leads to businesses.


IWant.com, Burlington, MA, said it can guarantee click-through rates of at least 10 percent through its recently launched Instant Opt-In, a targeted, permission-based direct e-mail marketing channel that delivers promotions on demand.


Respond.com, Palo Alto, CA, said it can deliver qualified buyers to businesses looking to increase revenue by adding value-added services through its Respond Lead Generation Network. The company offers customers a way to locate localized financial, real estate and legal services through a Web site.


Instant Opt-In, iWant's service, puts promotional messages in front of customers when they are ready to make a purchase. The company said the average click-through rate is about 25 percent. The service uses information provided by the customer and uses a matching engine to deliver appropriate promotions based on categories, keywords and location.


"We get a very tight form of permission from consumers," said Shabbir Dahod, iWant's CEO. "Consumers only get offers for the exact things they want, while marketers can market to the specific desire instead of just a generic profile. The key is you are capturing people at the moment they want to purchase something."


IWant, which was founded in May 1999, has delivered more than 1 million offers, he said. Its system now includes 1,100 offers from 800 advertisers, according to Dahod.


One of its clients is DealTime.com, an online comparison-shopping service, which iWant claims is receiving click-through rates between 30 percent and 35 percent.


However, Chris Victory, DealTime's director of online marketing, would not confirm those numbers. He said the company began testing Instant Opt-In in December and went live with the service in early January. He also noted it was too early to say exactly what the click-through rates are.


"It's getting harder and harder to find great-performing advertising resources," Victory said. "We signed on as an Instant Opt-In advertiser because of its targeting and guaranteed performance."


On Jan. 17, iWant launched Deals on Demand, a permission-based service that enables publishers to instantly deliver promotions through their Web sites. Users submit their requests from more than 270 categories and instantly receive offers that match their preferences.


Dahod said Deals on Demand delivers an average click-through rate of more than 20 percent. Among the new service's customers is SmarterLiving.com, a Web portal that offers weekly e-mail newsletters with information and special offers on airfare, car rentals and hotels.


"Based on the real estate and the resources we had to allocate for Deals on Demand, this has been one of our most profitable experiences, and it provides our customers with a great new service," said Michael Wertheim, SmarterLiving.com's director of business development.


Respond.com claims to deliver relevant, targeted leads through its Respond Lead Generation Network, which enables businesses to "convert Web visitors into purchase-ready buyers." The company claims its network reaches more than 1 million businesses.


The company said its matching engine looks at location, category, sub-category, lead source, time and aggregator affiliation. Businesses can pick from a number of options within each attribute.


It currently is fueling Martindale-Hubbell's laywers.com Web site by matching prospective clients with attorneys based on geography and area of practice. Respond.com said that in the first 30 days using the Lead Generation Network, laywers.com generated more than 250 requests per week and signed up 1,900 attorneys.
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