Solutions offer Web marketers customer data boost

John Quinn is a marketing strategist for the Toronto-based offices of SAS Institute (Canada). Traditional bricks-and-mortar companies building e-commerce systems generally start out with a solid base of customer knowledge from previous operations. However, e-intelligence solutions offer companies with little...

John Quinn is a marketing strategist for the Toronto-based offices of SAS Institute (Canada).

Traditional bricks-and-mortar companies building e-commerce systems generally start out with a solid base of customer knowledge from previous operations. However, e-intelligence solutions offer companies with little or no previous customer connections, such as companies founded on Web models, a chance to quickly gather tremendous knowledge about their customers.

It is the promise of customer knowledge that drives AutoTrader.com, the Atlanta, Ga.-based car-and-truck super site with 1.25 million used car listings, to explore and leverage the online buying patterns of its customers. The company is reinventing the way individuals shop for used vehicles and becoming part of a ‘community of interest’ on auto-related facts and knowledge. Online customers can obtain access to leasing, financing and insurance information, vehicle performance reviews and a wealth of other facts and figures they’d never find at a typical used car lot.

AutoTrader.com’s management sought to better understand customer site visits from a number of perspectives. They wanted a breakdown of who was visiting the site, the preferred paths customers took to get to certain parts of the site, the various levels at which customers entered the site, how often the same customers visited the site, and the sorts of buying actions repeat visitors took. Autotrader.com’s challenge was how best to harvest the information from those visits and extract knowledge from the data in order to make better business decisions.

Data warehousing helped the company address their business needs by bringing together Web data with other data sources, cleaning it, and then building business models that would allow them to extract business intelligence based on actual customer activity. The solution, built with software from SAS Institute, gives management insight into Web site traffic.

Now, an automated software application ‘jump-starts’ at 2 a.m. daily, creating logs of site activity. Via an Intranet, the application generates Web pages with appropriate statistics and graphs for early-morning management review. Managers can drill down into the reports to view data. User-friendly tabular or 3-D charts show an analysis of Web site traffic. From this data, managers can monitor the results of specific advertising campaigns and the impact they have on individual buyers.

The information gathered also helps AutoTrader.com management with Web design by analyzing browsing patterns to see which buyers respond to specific pages. The results are helping AutoTrader.com move toward tailoring pages to specific, individual buyers – a sort of holy grail of personalization and the ultimate promise of e-commerce.

Web browser technology is a strategic ally for any business wanting to analyze customer relationship levels and activities, browsing patterns and more. It can also help businesses obtain access to information relative to their customers’ wants and needs so the proper products and services can continue to be offered. Any business wanting to survive in today’s marketplace should not underestimate the power of Web browser technology and what a difference it can make to enhancing customer levels, loyalty and the corporate bottom line.

Also in this special report:

- It’s a whole new ball game: As consumers become more comfortable doing business online, marketers must come to grips with the new challenges that are now facing them p.D17

- Without infrastructure, you’re courting disaster

- Integration can break online shopping barrier p.D20

- Future’s bright for online newspapers p.D22

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group