Privacy and DNC Regulations Boost Call for Marketing Automation

Responding to growing pressure from legislators and customers, SAS has launched Marketing Automation 4, a new version of the company's analytical suite for marketing professionals. Running on the company's recently launched SAS 9 Intelligence Platform, the new version allows marketing staff to focus campaigns on highly targeted customer segments, while operating under the constraints of company-wide privacy rules, as well as shared data like DNC lists. Unlike relying on a decision support analyst to conduct one-off customer segmentation for any given campaign, integrated marketing automation solutions allow companies to streamline the process, from number crunching to campaign fulfillment, and to provide integrated reporting of multiple campaigns over time. SAS continues its drive with its marketing automation product to bring its analytical tools--long considered powerful, but geared toward statisticians--to business users with limited statistical backgrounds. "SAS has always been the Cadillac, if not the Rolls Royce, of the analysis industry, and the problem there is you have to know how to drive it," says Chris Selland, vice president of sell-side research, The Aberdeen Group. The company says it engaged interface experts to work with marketing organizations at large corporations to understand their needs and workflow, and as a result, has moved more functionality to a browser interface that gives business users the view they need to be productive. "One of the big things we are trying to do here is have this completely integrated into SAS, but at the same time make it much more Web-based, so it could be accessible to more marketing people," says SAS CEO Jim Goodnight, Ph.D. Randy Betancourt, director of product strategy at SAS, says that without better access to analytical tools marketers often fall back on cruder methods, such as demographic clustering, which says nothing about the customer relationship over time. "They generally look at age, income, and zip code, but there are those of the opinion that statistics can improve targeting," Betancourt says. Not surprising, SAS has focused more strongly on building the analytical rather than the operational side of its marketing automation product. Best-in-breed operational functionality, such as budget tracking and staff resource management, is often covered by other vendors' marketing resource management solutions. SAS has been building its presence in analytical marketing automation for years. The company bought marketing automation developer Intrinsic in 2001 for its solution, which was already heavily based on the SAS platform. Selland cautions that even the most advanced analytical platforms cannot improve customer relationships without a solid, steady base of reliable information about clients and services. "Marketers are under a ton of pressure these days to show return and allocate dollars effectively," he says, "and if you don't have customer data well organized, you can't use these capabilities."
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