Digital Impact Moves Into ASP Space

E-mail marketing firm Digital Impact looks to stake a claim in the hotly contested hosted software space, taking the wraps off its ASP solution.

The San Mateo, Calif.-based firm, which provides online direct marketing services for companies, said it would be extending its in-house software, Impact, to an ASP version. As a result, clients would be able to access the same email design, targeting, delivery, tracking, optimization and analytics software used by Digital Impact from their desktops.

While they sacrifice the expertise associated with fully-outsourced agency services, clients are drawn to ASP solutions for greater control over proprietary data, including the ability to better integrate marketing data with other proprietary systems, like CRM. In its ASP version, Digital Impact’s software offers plug-ins for applications like Microsoft Excel, and segmentation and querying powered by a hosted OLAP datamart — helping to link existing database data to email marketing campaigns.

“Our clients have been driving us this way, as they’ve looked to understand cross-marketing ROI,” said Dan Miller, director of solutions management at Digital Impact.

Additionally, ASP solutions make it easier for the marketing teams responsible for email marketing to get sign-off from and coordinate with other areas of the company. (The ASP product also includes workflow management features.)

Already, at least one client — Victoria’s Secret — has made the transition, pulling its email marketing work in-house using the firm’s ASP solution.

For Digital Impact, meanwhile, the expansion to ASP services is intended to parlay the firm’s almost five years of email agency services into a new, potentially more lucrative area. That move has been followed by a number of online marketing and advertising players, who have sought to boost revenues by focusing on software and technology offerings — which don’t incur the manpower costs involved with fully-outsourced campaigns.

As a result, while Digital Impact potentially has a higher-margin product offering on its hands, the expansion into the ASP business means that it now competes directly with rivals like DoubleClick, which a year ago acquired ASP FloNetwork.

Additionally, the move puts Digital Impact on par with competitors like CMGI-owned yesmail.com, which also competes in the ASP space in addition to offering a full-service product.

But Digital Impact said it believes one of its major differentiators will be its flexibility — it can offer self-service ASP customers some of its outsourced services, as needed.

Victoria’s Secret, for one, is “primarily a self-service client, but they do need additional service … in terms of content integrating and testing,” Miller said. “They have a creative team but they wanted our help to make sure the emails looked good in all the different email browsers and platforms, so we provided that help.”

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