The E-Business Marketing Tool Kit

OK, it’s time to put your freshly minted marketing budget to work. Have you thought about what type of system infrastructure you should put together to support your marketing needs for 2001?

Well, if you haven’t, I’ve created a short list of e-business applications that are helping marketers do their jobs more effectively. Not surprisingly, many of these tools use Internet technology to support the core processes of marketing and sales.

Channel synchronization tools. Prospects hate the idea of repeating previously provided information, and most companies don’t like entering the same information across various systems. Channel synchronization tools such as E.piphany’s E.5 integrate customer touch points in real time, so a salesperson, for example, knows that the prospect on the phone just spent an hour at the firm’s web site, where she focused on a single product. Products from Siebel, MarketFirst, Annuncio, and Unica include tools for scheduling, comparing, and optimizing offers across segments.

Content management packages. Content management packages such as Vignette and Interwoven might be overkill for most pure marketing needs. However, catalog content management packages from ec-Content, i2, and CardioNet enable marketing professionals to create personalized product brochures and dynamically manage catalog content for presentation at e-marketplaces and trading extranets.

Outsourced marketing services. A number of compelling marketing services have emerged as the ASP model for sales and promotion continues to mature. Salesforce.com gets the selling organization to collaborate online and provides functionality similar to that of more expensive sales force automation (SFA) packages. In some cases, the entire marketing systems infrastructure can be outsourced as a service. Asera and Digital River provide integrated architectures for rent. Companies such as Responsys.com and FloNetwork address in-house work related to email marketing and campaign list management.

Measurement tools. Data-mining software from Business Objects and MicroStrategy often comes integrated with third-party marketing software packages. These tools help marketing professionals find patterns in advertising and marketing campaigns. If you are considering an ASP option, look at Primary Knowledge. Its approach focuses on collecting isolated customer data and calculating ROI; think of this approach as getting business intelligence for rent.

When choosing these tools, it’s always important to keep your business requirements and processes in mind; it’s not sufficient simply to implement technology. There are process changes, organization training, and perhaps reporting issues to iron out. In most cases, it’s helpful to seek the advice of an outside professional. Many solution vendors have their own professional services arm; however, if you are implementing a number of packages or services that have to work in a coordinated fashion, you should seek the help of a systems integrator.

These packages offer a number of benefits — if you select the correct package and implement it in accordance with your business needs. Your company’s process in generating sales leads or creating targeted marketing campaigns can be greatly improved. In addition, nonmarketing-related operations, such as product development and planning, benefit from understanding customer interactions with the company.

I am interested in hearing from you. Is your company considering an investment in e-business applications for marketing this year?

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