Massachusetts-based Unica has announced today the availability of its latest solution, aimed at preparing marketers for the increasingly popular multichannel battleground. Unica Interactive Marketing is a channel-neutral solution that can be integrated with any inbound touch point, whether it's the Web site, contact center, or a kiosk, explains Elana Anderson, former Forrester Research analyst and now vice president of product strategy and design at Unica. By creating and managing a "memory" of ongoing interactions, marketers will be able to capitalize on the ever-important dialogue with the customer.
Anderson highlights three new enhancements associated with this launch:
- scalability: for high-volume Web sites and contact centers;
- advanced analytics and self-learning algorithms: supports known customers as well as anonymous visitors (whereas competitors, Anderson says, often only tackle one or the other); and
- dynamic segmentation: continually captures information provided by customer actions, building a memory of the interaction while continually rethinking and refining its response messages accordingly.
With each new release, Anderson says, Unica's objective is to deliver solutions that solve clear business problems, namely bringing inbound and outbound marketing onto a single platform. From a technology perspective, she adds, the new release hits the four key criteria of a customer-centric marketing operation:
- customer awareness from historical and current perspectives;
- centralized decision-making through interactions and dialogues;
- cross-channel execution that supports customer interactions through any channel (including those that switch channels during the decision-making process); and
- marketing organization tools and technology to enable collaboration and foster transparency.
Despite the rapid adoption of Internet marketing, Anderson says she continues to see the channel wrongly lumped into the budget category of new media. "The Internet is not new media anymore," she says. "We need to integrate what we're doing online with the rest of our marketing tactics." The ball is rolling in that direction, she says, as leading-edge online marketing groups are finally being welcomed into the core of a successful integrated marketing channel.
This release continues to add "more industrial strength around decision-making solutions in marketing," notes Suresh Vittal, principal analyst at Forrester Research. However, he says, "at the end of the day, with any of these [marketing automation] solutions, it becomes 'Show me the proof.' "
As much as providers of marketing software boast about being the industry's latest antidote, it all depends on how the implementations get the job done. In particular, that means creating a user interface that encourages everyday adoption by the everyday user. Businesses, too, need to hold up their end of the bargain with each deployment, and they need to use analytics to drive it. "A lot depends on the marketing strategy of organizations," Vittal says, including who controls the technology, the management, and the behavior of the employees. Therefore, he says, in addition to its pursuit of a more tightly integrated solution, Unica cannot neglect its obligation to educating the market. "Is [Unica] a key enabler? No question," Vittal says. "But there's still plenty of process and change management that needs to happen on the client side of the house. We cannot forget that."
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