Order from Chaos
MarketSoft's eOffers helps companies coordinate offers and promotions.
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From the customer's point of view, promotions can seem chaotic. A consumer purchasing a car, for example, might receive conflicting or duplicative offers from an auto manufacturer's geographic managers, product managers or the dealer. Prospective car buyers might see a commercial on TV and then go to the dealer to discover a different campaign or discount. The more people involved in the marketing process, the more likely a customer will end up baffled. Marketing automation vendor MarketSoft--known best for eLeads, a Web-based lead management application--aims to eliminate the confusion created when multiple entities market and sell to the same set of customers with its new product, eOffers. The "Offer Broker" function maintains an inventory of all previously defined offers, their content, who sent them and to whom. This information goes to all eOffers users, whether they are company employees or channel partners.

Yankee Group analyst Robert Mirani says eOffers is most useful to companies that have both direct and indirect channels. "Other marketing automation vendors assume that companies run a pretty tight marketing ship," says Mirani. "They think offers are mostly sent out by the corporate marketing department, and channel partner offers are strictly limited to a small geographic area. But in reality corporate needs to be aware of what the channels are doing and find out what works so those programs can be rolled out to other regions." Key eOffers features include:

Delegatable Rules Engine--simplifies the creation, distribution and management of offers. Wizards guide non-technical marketing managers through the process. Marketing, sales and channel partners can design offers collaboratively.

Embedded Customer Control--gives customers control to set limits on the frequency and content of the e-mail offers they receive using "sliders" that appear at the bottom of the offer. "This makes customers part of the marketing network," says Greg Erman, president and CEO of MarketSoft. "They can tell companies how they want to be marketed to and avoid a deluge in their in-box." Incubation Engine--nurtures a relationship with potential buyers, turning prospects to customers by moving them from exposure to purchase with multiple offers over a sustained period of time.

Offer Reporting Engine--enables businesses to determine the effectiveness of a marketing campaign.

MarketSoft calls the combination of eLeads and eOffers "The Marketing Network" (a term the company has trademarked). In The Marketing Network, eOffers creates the demand which is then fulfilled by eLeads. This network allows members of the extended enterprise to speak with one voice to the customer, says MarketSoft.

The package is not a complete marketing automation solution, however. Mirani predicts partnerships with other marketing automation and partner relationship management vendors to complete the picture. "Companies need to know what kind of offer is most appropriate," says Mirani. "So a partnership with a data management company like E.piphany or Broadbase would be helpful." And, the MarketSoft package also lacks campaign management functions.

That doesn't bother Erman. "We've intentionally gone narrow and deep," he says, claiming that competing products have less than 50 percent of MarketSoft's capabilities.

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