*Net Perceptions to Debut Data Tool

Net Perceptions Inc. is expected to act on its promise to vault into competition with personalization software firms Accrue Software Inc. and E.piphany Inc. with the debut of new customer data analysis technology at the Direct Marketing Association’s net.Marketing show in Seattle this week.

“This definitely starts to position us into a bigger pond,” said Jane Westlind, director of commerce solutions at Net Perceptions, Minneapolis. The company, which sells primarily to business-to-consumer marketers, plans to introduce software called GreenLight Go. It also will tout a new version of its outbound e-mail technology.

With the move, Net Perceptions is taking quick advantage of the technology and intellectual capital it gained with this month’s $126 million acquisition of KD1 Inc. The Austin, TX, firm makes technology for analyzing customer data and then picking and pricing merchandise.

The GreenLight product, which basically comes straight out of KD1, is designed to break down and report on Web site purchasing information.

“It munches on that data and spits out some pretty concise information about how your site is performing overall,” said product manager Pete Eppele. “It gives you some pretty advanced customer segmentation.” It tells which products sell most profitably and identifies goods that best spark first purchases or follow-up buying. The technology also examines the effects of site layout.

Net Perceptions describes the new version of its e-mail technology, called Net Perceptions for Marketing Campaigns 2.0, as the “the only e-mail solution that truly allows marketers to talk one-to-one with their customers.” It’s a bold claim that undoubtedly would raise pointed objections from Net Perceptions’ competitors, but a contention Westlind defends.

“People kind of overuse the phrase [one-to-one marketing], but Marketing Campaigns really takes this personalization technology and lets marketers suggest products that have been individually selected for each person,” she said.

The technology analyzes individuals’ past purchases, e-mail and Web site click-throughs and other data. It then pitches a product already bought by other people who behave similarly. The assumption is that people who act similarly will buy similarly.

“I would argue that some of the other companies out there are trying to be a broad solution,” Westlind said. “They have a better standing possibly in a different industry sector. They really don’t have a strong understanding of business-to-consumer retailing.”

Westlind did not name specific competitors, but Net Perceptions vice president of product management Steve VanTassel last month singled out E.piphany for understanding the financial industry better than retail. He’s not the first to do so. But it’s a reputation E.piphany might be shedding – the firm announced a number of new dot-com clients outside the finance sector this month.

Net Perceptions sells products on a software-licensing basis. Through March the company is bundling GreenLight Go!, Marketing Campaigns and its Net Perceptions for E-commerce personalization engine for $80,000.

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