Unica, a provider of enterprise marketing-management solutions, has released its new integrated marketing suite, promising seamless cross-product integration, a friendlier user interface, and much-needed dashboards. The announcement comes shortly after the unveiling of a rebranding effort that involves a fresh tagline -- "Marketing Success Starts with U"-- and an updated Web site modified to reflect the new branding initiative. At least one analyst described the product launch and rebranding effort as "necessary moves" for the company.
"We're in the midst of a major transformation," says Brad Bohrer, Unica's director of product marketing. "We've been known for campaign management for forever, but that's just one piece of what we're doing now. We felt like we needed a new brand to take the message to the market."
Bohrer says the transformation was undertaken largely in response to customer demand: Unica customers, he says, are moving beyond the single campaign toward multichannel, multicomponent interactive marketing. Moreover, marketing departments are breaking out of their silos and increasingly blurring or blending their roles (e.g., an email marketing team working with a direct marketing team, or marketing working with the analytics team, etc.). "We needed the integration between [the] planning and execution pieces [to be] tighter and more granular," Bohrer says. "To do that we had to give [marketers] a platform that was more collaborative."
Suresh Vittal, principal analyst at Forrester Research and a self-described advocate of usability, says that the "cosmetic change" to Unica's solution has made the product more user-friendly and easier to navigate, while simplifying workflow and processes. "It's something they needed to do to democratize the usage of the platform," he says. "It was needed."
But do the improvements move Unica to the forefront of the market in terms of usability? Vittal says that remains an unanswered question. "All of what they've done," he says, "helps them catch up to some of the much…newer, on-demand products out there."
Unica 8 integrates the following, formerly disparate components:
- campaign planning and execution;
- Web analytics;
- email delivery; and
- Unica's existing marketing platform.
Aside from replacing the now-retired "Affinium" product brand with the corporate one, most of Unica's products have retained their descriptive names:
- Affinium 7 is now Unica 8
- Affinium NetInsight is now Unica NetInsight
- Affinium Campaign is now Unica Campaign
- Affinium Campaign eMessage is now Unica eMessage
- Affinium Campaign Interact is now Unica Interact
- Affinium Campaign Optimize is now Unica Optimize
- Affinium Leads is now Unica Leads
- Affinium Detect is now Unica Detect
Some, however, have undergone more radical rebranding:
- Affinium Insight is now Unica CustomerInsight
- Affinium Model is now Unica PredictiveInsight
- Affinium Collaborate is now Unica Distributed Marketing
- Affinium Plan is now Unica Marketing Operations
Meanwhile, Bohrer says, though the new interface may represent little more than a pleasant change for the single-application Unica client, for the multi-application user -- a label he says applies to the bulk of the company's clientele -- the contrast is as dramatic as night and day. According to Bohrer, the separate Unica solutions may have shared certain design and aesthetic similarities, but they were clearly distinct entities.
Perhaps most notably, in the past users had to access each Unica solution separately. The new interface, Bohrer says, provides access to all products via a configurable navigation bar across the top of the screen. The product even features a "recently visited" tab that allows users to skip between applications. "You don't have to figure out what product to do something in [anymore]," Bohrer says. "It's just, ‘What do I want to do?'."
Aside from the overall usability changes, Unica 8 also introduces several new features and enhancements:
Web Analytics: Unica's NetInsight product, Bohrer says, has been recognized as a leading solution by industry analysts. Users are able to capture Web behavior and identify opportunities by leveraging visual insight, segmentation, and cross-channel capabilities.
Email Delivery: Unica also released eMessage 8.0 today, a solution that supports email marketing across the campaign life cycle, including:
- campaign management;
- content creation and management;
- email deliverability and deliverability monitoring;
- reporting and analysis; and
- cross-channel integration.
The integration, the company says, eliminates the need for additional professional services or technology support to combine email response data with other online and offline interaction data. Moreover, Unica promises the elimination of the various challenges a marketing department may face in its internal email operations (e.g., restrictions imposed by the technology department regarding the time at which emails go out, getting its data back from email service providers, and costly integration issues with other marketing programs).
Bohrer describes eMessage 8.0 as a "hybrid product," or one that delivers the best of both worlds: Users can keep their data on premises for as long as they like, with the perpetual option of offloading email deliverability to Unica OnDemand, the company's software-as-a-service offering. (In addition, a partnership with email-delivery service provider Pivotal Veracity promises to enhance Unica's own email offering with features such as deliverability tracking across various Internet service providers or geographies).
Campaign Planning: Marketing teams often find themselves overlapping in the planning and execution process, from marketing managers to the segment-and-list creators, from the creative to the analysis. Too many companies, Bohrer recalls, were using Excel sheets, outside of the Unica application, to track campaigns and the results. "Now there's a built-in capability to manage all that," he says. "It's more than just campaign analysis."
Reporting: Reports consolidate data comparing detailed campaign forecasts and results by channel and offer.
Dashboards: Users can pick from over 30 "portlets," or dashboard layouts, or a free-form layout to bring various types of content onto the dashboard. Any URL-addressable external data (reports, Web pages, etc.) can be integrated into the dashboard.
On the Unica marketing platform, all administration and configuration settings across the product line are now located in a single area. As a result, organizations have unified management not just of all their products, but of all their security settings and configurations as well. This platform, Bohrer says, will be the foundation upon which everything else is built, allowing users to leverage any and all Unica product improvements -- whether through upgrades, organic growth, acquisition, or partnerships -- to bring everything into the solution much more smoothly.
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