2003 Apr 02
Zoomio, Inc. MyMarketing Machine
David M. Raab
DM News
April, 2003

Application Service Providers (ASPs)–independent vendors who run one software package for many different clients–sound like one of those crazy dot.com schemes that should have vanished with the tech bubble. But the concept still shows some life, particularly for sales and marketing applications including sales force automation, Web site analytics and email generation. ASP advantages of low initial cost, quick deployment and limited in-house technical demands are especially important for those areas. In addition, sales and marketing applications often do not integrate closely with other corporate systems or displace an existing, conventional solution–two common obstacles to ASP acceptance.

MyMarketingMachine (Zoomio, Inc., 617-784-6872, www.zoomio.com) promises to extend the ASP model to multi-channel campaign management. Note the word “promises”. Basic functions will be available in the first production version released April 14, while additional capabilities are slated for June and October releases. Since release plans often go awry, some caution is in order.

But even Zoomio’s initial implementation is pretty impressive. The heart of the system is an ability for non-technical users to set up multi-step, cross-channel marketing campaigns with real time interactions and different treatments based on customer response. This is considerably more power than most email or sales automation ASPs provide. Conventional campaign management products offer still greater sophistication, sometimes through an ASP. But their prices dwarf MyMarketingMachine’s rate of $150 per user per month. At that cost, plus some additional charges for data storage and outbound emails, MyMarketingMachine should make powerful campaign management available to small firms that could never afford a conventional system.

Campaigns begin with lists imported from flat files or captured through Web, email or telemarketing interactions. Lists are stored in a standard data structure with about 25 fields per individual and another 20 per company. Additional attributes, such as data captured with a form, are stored in XML files that look to the user as if they were part of the main database. This is a clever approach to an old problem, although speed might be an issue.

Lists can be combined, deduplicated or excluded from each another to create new lists. Duplicates are identified using an exact match on one or more user-specified fields, typically an email address. The system provides an unusually convenient interface for list-level tasks such as finding names that appear on both lists or finding names that appear just once on the two lists combined. After the master list is defined, users can further refine their selections by building queries based on data elements, conditions and values. Queries can contain multiple conditions with and/or/not relationships but cannot include calculations. List membership can be frozen at the time of selection or updated dynamically as new records meet the specified conditions. The system will generate record counts at any point in the process.

Campaigns themselves are built by stringing together individual contact “vehicles” such as emails, Web forms or telemarketing scripts. First a set of vehicles is assigned to the campaign. Then the user assigns a triggering event and timing for each vehicle, possible outcomes such as different survey responses, and the (next) vehicle triggered by each outcome. Timing may be immediate, a defined waiting period, or a specific date. This is all done with Web forms, although the resulting campaign flow is displayed on a graphical diagram. Zoomio plans eventually to let users build campaigns by dragging and dropping vehicle icons directly onto the diagram, but has not set a date to release this capability. Still, a forms-based approach is perfectly usable–so MyMarketingMachine would be valuable even if the drag and drop campaign designer never materialized.

A greater immediate concern is the effort required to build the contact vehicles. Web forms and emails are currently built outside of the system using standard HTML and email creation tools. In itself, this is no great hardship since simple tools are widely available. But transferring data from vehicles into the MyMarketingMachine database requires precise coding to generate transactions in the correct format. Most marketers will need to hire Zoomio or an affiliated service provider to create these documents. Zoomio plans to add Web form and email builders in June that will let non-technical users do this for themselves.

The initial release of MyMarketingMachine does let users build interactive telemarketing scripts. The system can merge these with call lists and display them to telephone agents as a campaign executes. To set up a a script, users define sequences of questions, responses, and additional questions. The system supports many different response types, including single or multiple answers, drop down lists, scales such as 1-10, and free form comments. Different responses can trigger different follow-on questions. But the questions cannot vary based on other data such as customer attributes stored in the database. This would require sending different scripts to different customer groups either through branches within the campaign or by creating different campaigns fed by different lists.

Outputs are generated by the campaign vehicles and can include messages, leads, files or transactions sent to external systems. MyMarketingMachine is built on the Microsoft .NET platform, so a technician could develop real time processes to add and extract data outside the MyMarketingMachine interface. The June release will include prebuilt functions to exchange transactions with Microsoft’s own new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. The less powerful initial version will only generate export files to load Microsoft CRM in a batch process. The first release will also include a set of a dozen prebuilt report templates, which will be expanded as customers make requests.

MyMarketingMachine uses a Web-based portal interface that provides different users with information appropriate to their particular needs. Typical users would include campaign designers, senior managers, sales people and telephone agents. The June and October releases will add functions for campaign costs, teams, execution tasks, and end-user report building.

Zoomio was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Denmark. The company reports over 100 firms have signed up in advance to purchase MyMarketingMachine.

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David M. Raab is a Principal at Raab Associates Inc., a consultancy specializing in marketing technology and analytics. He can be reached at draab@raabassociates.com.

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