Netscape Taps New Automation Software to Target Members

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Netscape Communications Corp. is expected to announce today that it will begin delivering more finely targeted pitches and personalized content to Netscape Netcenter's 10 million members using just-released marketing-automation software.


Dubbed Annuncio Live, Netscape will use the software to target portal site Netcenter's membership "in real time" with methods familiar to traditional direct marketers, such as setting measurement standards or metrics, creating test cells, tracking responses and setting database triggers such as automatic cross-sells and product-update notifications, said Didier Moretti, president/CEO of Annuncio Software, Los Altos, CA.


"What we did was take proven direct marketing methodology and adapt it to the interactive, real-time nature of the Net," he said.


The integration of Annuncio Live into Netscape's marketing plans comes on the heels of the Mountain View, CA-based company's announcement earlier this month that Netcenter's membership has more than doubled since July. Netcenter (www.netcenter.com) offers members 18 content channels and a set of services that include Netscape-branded search, software downloads, a member directory, a personalization service and free e-mail. Company representatives declined to say how active the Netcenter member base is or how much they buy online.


"I don't know that we've measured specifically how much they've purchased online," said Jane Smith, group manager for Netcenter membership marketing. "A lot of our services are free. So, while the e-commerce component is certainly important, we have other measurements such as the number of services they've signed up for and how active they are."


Noting the importance of ad banner revenue to Netscape, she said the integration of Annuncio Live into the company's marketing plans is designed to foster loyalty among Netscape members with more relevant offers and content and, as a result, drive more traffic to the site.


Also, the combination of increased member loyalty and rifle-shot pitches will let Netscape create new advertising opportunities for marketers and e-commerce partners while helping Netscape boost its cost-per-thousand impression rates, Smith said.


Using Annuncio Live, Netscape can also automate e-mail follow-up contact with members by time or events, such as sending members birthday greetings or notifying them of product updates.


While short on details, Smith said Netscape will use Annuncio Live to cross-pitch services to its members. Also, Netscape is testing delivering customized Web-page content like local weather, dining and entertainment news according to members' ZIP codes to see if it lifts response to promotions.


Netscape also is surveying test cells of its membership, and considering increasing the frequency of a monthly e-mail newsletter and segmenting newsletter recipients by interests. "For example, if we find that a chunk or our users are small businesses, we could start a small-business newsletter," Smith said.


Netscape has names, e-mail addresses, postal addresses and ages on all of Netcenter's members from registration, she said, adding, "a significant majority" have opted in to receiving marketing e-mail from Netscape.


The company "collects demographic information along the way," she said, and plans to use database overlays to get more household data on Netcenter's membership. Smith declined to name a data vendor. Though Netscape plans to increase its marketing activity this spring, Netcenter members won't be flooded with promotions, she said.


"A lot of our communications are very broad-based," Smith said. "This system will allow us to understand what interests and needs we need to fulfill by smaller groups. You'll be seeing more activity because the tools will help automate these campaigns, but we won't go to our entire installed based with every single campaign."


Netscape chose Annuncio from a list of 10 vendors who the two companies did not name. Annuncio Live costs $100,000.
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