Martha Stewart Unites Database to Better Target Consumers

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In a major move for its e-commerce operations, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. has integrated its 8 million-strong offline and online customer database.


The effort combines disparate content and commerce databases across company properties to help Martha Stewart target featured products and related promotions to visitors of www.marthastewart.com.


"We believe that a lot of those visitors to our site ... are people that we really know in some way, shape or form," said Michael Gutkowski, vice president of marketing and business development for Internet Direct Commerce at Martha Stewart, New York. "If we can provide them with relevant information from a content standpoint or products, we'll be able to increase our purchase conversion, repeat purchase rate and average basket value."


Martha Stewart does not make those metrics public.


Built using tools from E.piphany Inc. and ATG's Dynamo, and with a site redesign by Fort Point Partners, the data mart has details like customer names, contact and e-mail information, transaction history and demographics. Soon, site visit session data like page views and areas visited will be added.


Correlated data will cover consumer interactions with the Martha Stewart brand across various platforms. This includes subscribers to the flagship Martha Stewart Living magazine and titles on weddings and babies, cookbooks, site customers and registrants, and the Martha By Mail catalog.


The database also has customer information from Kmart Corp.'s BlueLight.com, an online store in which Martha Stewart once invested. Customers via partnerships with greeting card service Touchpoint also form part of the database.


"We needed to be able to recognize [marthastewart.com visitors] and we couldn't recognize them, whether they were from the publishing side or the television program," said Margaret Roach, executive vice president of Internet Direct Commerce. "[Also], the site wasn't scalable. We could not meet the demands of the number of customers that came knocking on the doors. Very fundamental -- we didn't even have a pre-populated form or address book or wish list."


Before the integration, it was a herculean task to track the effectiveness of product placements next to appropriate content. This was of little help in converting browsers into buyers.


"Every single time we wanted to marry a proprietary story or a cookie story or a craft project to the right SKU from the [online] store, someone had to go and manually create that page," Roach said.


Gutkowski agreed.


"Having two separate URLs -- marthastewart.com and marthabymail.com -- really made the sharing of data across those Web sites and pre-populating of forms for checkout very difficult," he said. "Data analysis was extremely difficult."


With the unified database, Martha Stewart can segment audiences and more effectively identify anonymous users. That data is then married to what the company already knows about visitors through previous interactions across Martha Stewart properties.


"We've gone through a pretty exhaustive merge/purge on our entire file to try to match up multichannel buyers," Gutkowski said. "We're looking at a number of different characteristics like last and first name, ZIP code, city and other information to reduce the duplication on our file."


Experian created the algorithms for this process.


Nearly a month after marthastewart.com's new look, the site has garnered more than 78,000 registrants to the new wish list. This was even before the site makeover was advertised.


To spur registrations and get the online address books populated, the site is being promoted on Martha Stewart's television show, catalogs, books, via e-mails and placements on AOL's shopping areas.


Visitors are now urged to sign in to receive offers and discounts. Once registered, the visitor is recognized on subsequent visits and kept informed of relevant content and promotions. A panel on the right side of the page serves offers. ATG's Dynamo and E.piphany technologies will help deliver the contextual messages and promotions.


"Because the site is now new, for us right now it is very important that they sign in so that we can begin the process of knowing them again and matching these with the 8 million names in the database," Gutkowski said.


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