Q&A: Randy Smith, president, ClearSaleing

Randy Smith, president of analytics company ClearSaleing, discusses the GSI Commerce and eBay acquisitions and what his company can do to help clients drive customer loyalty.  

Direct Marketing News (DMN): It’s been about 10 months since ClearSaleing was acquired by GSI Commerce and about seven months since GSI was acquired by eBay. How has your company changed in that time?

Randy Smith (ClearSaleing): As with any acquisition, you go through some integration which was pretty standard. It was easy and straightforward. The real benefits were access to additional customer bases. EBay ironically was always one of our premier target prospects. Now we can help them with their own massive digital marketing initiatives. We are clearly looking to invest in our platform and make sure we’re able to help advertisers optimize digital media spend. We’ve been able to surpass the 200 advertisers mark and it’s been an exciting year.

DMN: Forrester Research reported that your company provided a 605% return on investment for advertisers utilizing your platform. What is it that advertisers are looking for and how can companies like yours benefit them?

Smith: What they want and what they get are fairly aligned objectives. They want an accurate way to measure the true performance of sources, campaigns and ads. Step one is getting a true, accurate, attributed measurement to how their digital media is performing. Once we do that, they’re looking for assistance in what to do about it, such as what’s not working and what can be improved.

DMN: Your company is obviously digital-focused. What can you do for more traditional advertisers? And how can you stay ahead of digital competitors?

Smith: We do a lot on focusing on bringing in offline conversion data from CRM or ERP systems. The whole focus of that effort is minimizing leakage that falls outside of online conversions. While retailers increase e-commerce conversions, their store is still the bread and butter for a lot of retailers. We are not attempting to help customers tactically manage offline media. But we’re able to bring in offline data so that we can build better attribution models to understand the true impact of digital sources. In terms of continuing competitive advantage, a lot of it is R&D. We’re starting to take a more roles-based approach to interact and reporting. We continue to wrap services around our technology. We provide training, certification, modeling and data analytics services and account management and support services as well.

DMN: What do you think is the most important factor for marketers in driving customer loyalty and what can strong analytics do to help brands achieve this?

Smith: From a digital media perspective, it’s about understanding how different segments react to and want to interact with digital media. Understand which media are better to introduce customers to products, which are better through the consideration process, and which are better at closing that opportunity. It’s really about providing customers with digital media sources at the right time to meet their objective depending on where they’re at in the buying cycle.

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