Web Feature: eBusiness Performance Management

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Whether your goals are to acquire new customers, maximize the value of existing customers or gain measurable return from your marketing and promotional activities, the corporate Website has become the new hub of a company's well-rounded customer relationship management (CRM) program. Sales force automation, call center and help-line support operations are now automated via the Web, making it the central fulfillment center for product information, lead referrals and customer service.

The Website becomes the cornerstone of a company's CRM strategy, marketing managers are increasingly charged with understanding and maximizing the value of their eBusiness investments and reporting tangible ROI to executive management, shareholders and investors. Today's marketer now must leverage the site to optimize revenue and increase shareholder value through an in-depth understanding of real customer needs. To do so, they have to be able to effectively gauge the impact of all eBusiness interactions between customer and company through accurate and timely Website analysis.

Herein lies the challenge: old eBusiness performance measures no longer stack up. Web analytics, as a technology, has grown up, and managing integrated eBusiness programs demands new performance metrics and tools for maximizing eBusiness Performance.

Organizations can't rely on hits, clicks and page views to determine return on critical online investments such as banner advertising, customer retention programs and lead generation activities. Companies typically spend millions on complex (and often costly) multi-dimensional eBusiness initiatives - e.g., synergizing national advertising campaigns with Web-based fulfillment, contests and couponing or in-store promotions with banner ads linked to online incentives. But how can they determine whether these programs directly result in greater customer satisfaction and brand loyalty, repeat business and ultimately higher sales?

The stakes are getting higher, and so is the price of failure.

The Price of Failure
The Gartner Group projects that up to 60 percent of all CRM implementations fail. Worse yet, more than half of all companies can't even measure the return on investment they're getting from their CRM projects (Ernst & Young LLP). The price of failure: expensive and time-consuming Web implementations that yield no return on investment. Poorly designed user interfaces, the inability to align Web-based programs with measurable business objectives and a lack of integration between marketing, sales and service channels are leaving the best-laid CRM strategies dead in their tracks.

The Five New Truths to eBusiness Performance Management
How can marketers ensure that their customer-facing Internet investments are paying off? By following the "Five Truths" of eBusiness Performance Management (eBPM) - an approach that involves measuring the results of new Web-enabled processes and taking action to ensure that business objectives are being met.

1. Traditional levels of accountability are mandatory.
It's not enough to report hits and clicks when looking to justify additional eBusiness investments.

When it comes to measuring Website effectiveness, some companies are still operating in the stone Age. Not Tribal DDB (Internet services firm of DDB Worldwide). When a major client asked the agency to create a banner ad promotion to drive qualified prospects to its Website to complete a questionnaire, they found a better way to measure Website performance against business goals beyond mere click-throughs.

By probing the behaviors behind the hits, Tribal DDB discovered who was responding to which ads and which portals they were coming from, as well as how many respondents completed the questionnaire and how many abandoned the site before completion. They then could recommend more targeted, customer-focused marketing strategies and determine their impact on other critical aspects of the client's business performance.

2. Customer-centric knowledge is core to eBusiness strategy, planning and execution.
Today's marketers must monitor and measure the impact of the Web on every conceivable customer touch-point throughout the organization (e.g., sales force automation, CRM, call center, customer service, etc.) - then design the site to fit unique visitor needs and behaviors. To produce a "single view" of the customer, there must be real integration of information between buying patterns, information retrieval, dealer referral, or registration and promotional and content effectiveness. Only then can marketers successfully convert browsers to buyers and build lasting loyalty.

3. Marketing and promotional effectiveness is the next critical eBusiness performance measure, as it commands a dominant share of operating expenses.
Unlike "one-off" mass marketing vehicles (e.g., a 30-second, multi-million Super Bowl ad), the Web facilitates direct, personalized customer interaction that can have lasting impact. But to truly gauge this impact, marketers can no longer afford to measure the effectiveness of marketing and promotional initiatives in isolation.

eBPM surpasses conventional performance measures in its ability to fuse together Website, customer and promotional activities into a unified view of business operations - giving marketers solid evidence to justify new online product mix and merchandising strategies, site refreshments and increased promotional budget spending.

4. Speed and immediacy of response drive profits and customer satisfaction.
Typically, marketers used to digest with their morning coffee a batch of historical Web tracking reports showing general visitor traffic patterns. They could only change the message or media after the fact and hope for better results. Now, eBPM lets them grasp campaign productivity as it happens through real-time monitoring and measurement of how different stimuli affect site traffic flows, site stickiness, entry and exit points - and relate this activity directly to buyer behavior. They then now tailor site content, adjust banner ads and modify e-mail messaging on the fly.

5. Traditional business performance measurement approaches no longer apply.
Up until very recently, marketers relied on traditional Web analytics tools to measure site performance, but found them too complicated, cumbersome or costly to maintain without IT intervention. They also were unable to generate a meaningful view of eBusiness processes to produce any real insight into the hidden connections between site performance, visitor behavior, promotional effectiveness and site activity.

Today's third generation eBusiness performance management (eBPM) software solutions are available for use by even the most non-technical marketing managers to provide accurate and timely analyses that allow marketing managers to capture true ROI from their Web-based investments and expand the value of their promotional dollars.

For a free white paper on "Corporate Web Investments Demand New Performance Metrics," visit Visual Insights at www.visualinsights.com.

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