From DM News' Special Report on Web Analytics: Using Web Analytics to Effectively Market Expiring Inventory

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Hotels, airlines, restaurants, rental car agencies and professional sports franchises have a unique, yet common marketing challenge: expiring inventory. Recently coined by industry analysts, the term refers to any commodity with an expiration date. Regardless of whether you're talking about seafood or Major League Baseball tickets, you have to sell the seafood before it goes bad and sell the tickets before the game is over. Otherwise, it's a loss.

Until recently, expiring inventories posed a direct marketing challenge to such organizations. Direct marketing professionals relied on data analysis tools that were somewhat comprehensive, but only provided one-time snap shots of underlying facts. This meant that information about their targeted prospects often became outdated by the time the product or service expired. So the marketing campaigns they created weren't as effective as they should have been. This wasn't so much a problem with the campaigns or the direct marketers themselves as the tools they used to collect and analyze the data.

DM News' Special Report on Web Analytics is available as a PDF file. To download the article click here or on the image./SPAN />

DM News Special Report on Web Analytics

Even skilled programmers and statisticians might need several days to compile a static analysis of prospect demographics that gives marketers the information to formulate mail, telephone, e-mail or other direct outreach programs. Unfortunately, in that timeframe, market dynamics could change.

Many applications allow companies in different industries to drill down into data. While this technology has been around for a while, it still forces users to configure tables and diagrams and navigate through complex user interfaces. These challenges hinder immediate access to the kind of information an airline, for example, might need to make fast decisions about promotions to increase ticket purchases on a series of flights between Boston to Baltimore while still balancing operating costs. By looking at reserved seating information in real time against changing market dynamics like fuel prices, managers can quickly determine how many seats they need to sell to achieve an acceptable profit margin. They can use this information to develop promotions on the fly to fill the seats.

The same is true for professional sports. Filling stadiums, ballparks and arenas for home games is a constant challenge. Without a constantly updated database showing seat-level detail about sold and available seating, sales and marketing staff are at a disadvantage. They don't have an accurate view of whether they should offer special promotions for seats in the corners of the upper level for a home National Basketball Association (NBA) game.

Emerging Web-based analytics technology solves these problems. Rather than waiting days for a detailed analysis, direct marketers can have a comprehensive view of everything from pre-registration, to flight capacity to the number of available seats for one of Major League Baseball's most intense rivalries: a series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

In the case of the NBA team, marketing staff can offer discounted promotions to past ticket buyers, sports publication subscribers and other likely demographics to put fans in the seats. Staff can also use this data to identify season ticket holders with a history of not showing up to games. With this information, they can directly contact the fan preemptively and offer discounts on parking or food to increase the money spent once the fan(s) is in the arena.

The latest Web-based analytics technology gives direct marketers an advantage. They now have immediately updated information from which to nimbly develop effective campaigns that will increase the bottom line, making them more productive.

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