BAM Solutions

On-line marketing, one of the newest additions to the marketers' arsenal, is still a toddler competing with the bigger boys of traditional marketing. But there's mounting evidence that the art and science of driving consumer traffic to websites is growing up...

On-line marketing, one of the newest additions to the marketers’ arsenal, is still a toddler competing with the bigger boys of traditional marketing. But there’s mounting evidence that the art and science of driving consumer traffic to websites is growing up in a hurry. And the major reason is music to a media buyer’s ears: cost-effectiveness.

Founded in Montreal in 1996 by Chris Emergui and Dwayne Dear, BAM Solutions started as a web design firm and quickly evolved into an on-line marketing company serving a variety of clients across North America. With the recent opening of a new office in Toronto at Yonge and St. Clair, and plans for another office in New York before Christmas, the company is poised to capitalize on its proven ability to deliver powerful results on-line with impressively low cost-per-transaction ad rates.

In 1999, less than $3 billion was spent on on-line advertising worldwide. According to various projections, that figure will rise to $25-30 billion by 2004, with 80% of the growth coming from the USA.

‘The big agencies in Canada and abroad are now understanding the marketing potential of the Internet,’ says Chris Emergui, president of BAM Solutions. ‘Their clients want a share of their advertising budgets to be spent on driving traffic to their websites. We believe the most cost-effective way to do it is to advertise on-line. When consumers see well-placed and well-designed banners, they can act immediately; traditional media simply doesn’t afford the same kind of immediacy.’

Marketers have traditionally been frustrated by not really knowing what works and what doesn’t, adds BAM Solutions Marketing Coordinator Rizwan Devji. ‘If you place an ad in a magazine, you don’t really know many people read it. On the net, we can track everything we do: we know exactly how many people saw an advertisement and how many clicked and visited your site.’

BAM Solutions takes standard on-line measurement techniques one step further by conducting what they call ‘post-click analysis’.

‘For example, we can place five different banner ads on five different sites for an Internet store,’ explains Emergui. ‘We treat it as 25 different media buys, tracking how many sales came through from each banner on each site. One site may have brought 1,000 people to its home page, 500 people to a product page, 100 people to the shopping cart page, but it resulted in only two sales.’

Knowing that banner #2 on site #3 cost x dollars and earned x dollars, BAM Solutions can determine the cost-per-transaction and then decide, together with the client, how to maximize the return on their investment. ‘As we learn more and more, we can optimize the campaign month by month,’ says Emergui. ‘Because of the success of this approach, over 80% of our business is repeat business.’

BAM Solutions recently won a client’s business because their proposal to drive traffic to their website was 17 times cheaper than a rival agency’s identical proposal. ‘The cost discrepancy was that extreme,’ says Emergui. ‘Off-line agencies are improving, but we still feel we’re ahead of them, especially in how we track results. Because of our economies of scale, piggybacking our smaller clients’ media buys onto our larger clients, we feel we can negotiate the best advertising prices anywhere.’

In addition to handling media placement, BAM Solutions has designed a slew of award-winning banners; in fact, the company was one of the first in Canada to create interactive, html banners. ‘Rather than send visitors to a site’s home page, a banner will ask what specific kind of product they’re looking for and direct them to it,’ says Emergui. ‘This type of interaction invariably gets a higher click rate.’

Devji notes that about 46% of Web sites don’t contact customers after they’ve made the first sale and about 25% of those sites don’t recognize the customer when they do come back. ‘It’s always cheaper to get a sale out of a repeat customer,’ he says. ‘Retaining customers is as important as acquiring them.’

Recently BAM Solutions has achieved spectacular success with a diverse roster of clients, including, a quiz site for doctors, and Calgary-based, Canada’s first on-line travel service, now experiencing exponential growth.

Launched last December, has since grown into the largest black gospel site on the net. Offering free concert tickets and giveaways, BAM Solutions used viral marketing techniques to gather e-mail addresses through a chain of ongoing referrals. They helped position the site and conduct a critical analysis of the client’s marketing plan. The result: the campaign steamrolled the site’s traffic., a Montreal-based meta-search engine, started up with 5,000 users per month in 1997. BAM Solutions’ on-line marketing has since pushed traffic up to almost 5 million users per month, making it the third largest meta-search engine in the world. ‘Ultimately on-line marketing is similar to traditional marketing,’ notes Emergui. ‘It’s about identifying your target market, their demographics and lifestyle.’

As part of its services, BAM Solutions can set up strategic alliances with related sites to garner free traffic for clients. Affiliate programs can link sites so that one site will pay another a commission for a sale. ‘Ultimately, by whatever means possible, we’re trying to get the consumer to the shopping cart and actually make the sale,’ says Emergui.

Emergui sees the educational training of his staff as a key to the agency’s continuing growth. ‘The high speed Internet culture promotes and demands constant learning, and we are dedicated to staying on top of it,’ he says. A BAM Solutions media planner, Adam Posman, writes weekly for Click Z, one of the most prominent on-line marketing editorial sites.

‘Having worked in the industry since 1996 makes us pioneers,’ says Devji. ‘People look to us for what’s going to happen next. We’ve been able to learn and build our relationships with our on-line clients for four years, and that gives us an advantage. The fundamental rules of marketing haven’t changed and never will. The Internet simply allows us to market in a more cost-efficient manner.’

Also in this sponsored supplement:

- Overview p.E1

- Armantus p.E2

- Modem Media p.E4

- Vickers & Benson Direct + Interactive p.E5

- MacLaren McCann Interactive p.E6

- MarchFIRST p.E8

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- Devlin Applied Design p.E12