Database Marketing On the Web

Three quarters of all sales on the Internet are made to 25 percent of the entire Internet cybercitizens according to the most recent Internet survey. Forrester Research predicts that by 2002 business-to-business e-commerce will account for $321 billion dollars. Predictions like these depend on companies being able to reach and effectively market to their core group of cybercitizens.

To determine if your Web-site visitors are anything like your customer base, and to grow your business through cross-selling and upselling, customer segmentation and profiling are essential.

Customer segmentation is about finding groups of similarly minded customers. Unlike traditional segmentation or profiling techniques, analysis of Web customers must be looked at differently. Understanding the customers and their segments can be difficult if only transaction data is available.

There are two additional types of data that can help provide a more vivid picture of the consumer: First is interaction data, which consists of the entry point at which a customer accesses the Web site, pages a customer views and the path a customer takes through the site. Second is demographic and psychographic data, which can be appended from third-party list sources (i.e. PRISM coding system for information about what kinds of people line in which regions of the country) or by asking customers directly when they are at the Web site.

These three important data groups (transaction, interaction and demographic) should be merged to gain a Web customer's profile. A customer's previous purchase behavior, browsing behavior and demographic characteristics may all be predictive of future customer sales or attrition.

High-quality Web sites improve the quality and content stored about the customer in a data warehouse. Customer segmentation delivers information from a warehouse that can be acted upon in real-time by commerce servers and by business users. Finally, customers benefit from segmentation by having value added to their shopping or Web site experience.

The art of managing and developing Web-based applications is to support brand identity on the Net while keeping the integrity of the responsiveness and interactivity of it. Many larger companies are leading the way with Web-site redeployment.

Web developers are moving into the world of one-to-one relationships, which keeps them from switching from site to site. You create customer loyalty, and you do that by creating a relationship with your customer.

Personalization is a good way to make that relationship stick. You can customize Web sites to customers' needs through the use of profiling software, which matches content to the users profile and delivers correct content to the right users. Transactional services are a great reason for people to come back to a site.

Wells Fargo Bank site is considered to be very successful. Customers have the option of an online relationship through the bank or with Quicken's Deluxe module, which connects directly to Wells Fargo and other major institutions.

American Airlines has flipped the switch on a set of customer-care databases that, for the first time, centralizes all of the company's content. The personalization project aims at generating new revenue streams from the 31 million members of its frequent-flyer program.

Dell Computer incorporated personalization using its own program, Premier Pages — which supports 6,000 separate corporate sites putting mission critical and historical information online for customers to access. Dell is selling in excess of $10 million a day on the Net as the result of its very focused Web efforts.

Integrated marketing on the Web is one of the most fundamental processes that must unify both the brand image and the Web-site concept. The work is to combine the corporate image with the interactivity of the Web site.

All of this personalization requires a one-to-one focus. Fortunately for Web developers, they are tied to the legacy systems and often have the freedom to create independent Web-based databases These databases are fed by the legacy system and have the ability to return to the legacy systems information necessary to refresh their databases.

The integration from traditional databases to Web-based systems is increasing with new technology providing almost seamless and transparent interfaces to the user. These new Web interfaces and databases are often more effective than the legacy systems.

Robert McKim is CEO of M/S Database Marketing, Los Angeles, a database and interactive marketing consultancy. His e-mail address is [email protected]

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