Fighting the Terror of Bad Response Rates

Like many of his counterparts back in Silicon Wadi, Israel’s coastal Mediterranean technology center, Ran Shaul is a former Israeli Defense Forces officer who now deploys military intelligence-based software in the marketing wars. The company he works for, Massachusetts-based Pursway, has for several years used anti-terrorism technology to optimize CRM databases for marketers.Today, with the introduction of Pursway Connect, it is moving into the business of customer acquisition, using its algorithms to root out friends of valued customers instead of cohorts of dangerous combatants.

“Our clients were using our PIVO technology to figure out why to go after Customer A instead of Customer B, and they came to us and said, ‘Why won’t you give us net new names? If I tell you who my best customers are, can you tell me who their friends are?’” says Shaul, Pursway’s chief client officer.

Pursway Connect uses PIVO—which stands for Pursway Influence Value Order—to root out a good customer’s 10 to 25 closest contacts via its 150 million-person U.S. database. It then applies what it calls its “social graph,” a predictive analytical tool with its origins in the IDF, to pinpoint the 8 to 15% of customers who are purchase influencers—bases from which clients can acquire new customers.

Pursway’s social graph “allows us to reach prospects with real-life relationships with our customers,” commented Sony Corporation of America SVP Marketing Steven Fuld in a press release announcing Connect. “In a world where people are more likely to buy what their friends buy, Sony becomes smarter and more relevant in its marketing outreach.”

Surprisingly, social media sites are not on the itinerary of Pursway’s social outreach program. “We’re not using social media data. We’re not aggregating an existing collection of contacts. We don’t see value in someone being friends with 5,000 other people on Facebook,” Shaul says. Instead, Pursway analyzes billions of pieces of data from thousands of open data sources against its database and connects the dots.

Pursway Connect is initially available for direct mail and social media targeting, though the company says it will soon be integrated for online and mobile advertising. Pursway is offering a 60-day trial of the platform using up to 100,000 names.

“We know marketers are under a ton of pressure to increase response rates and help drive sales, but they are already bogged down in too much data and a mess of disparate, complex analytics,” says Pursway CEO David Ellenberger. “The ability to extend their audience and target prospects that are friends of current customers should not be limited to the likes of Facebook.”

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