Genius' SalesGenius

The power of presence and Web analytics are combined in a single nonintrusive service that provides real-time analysis of marketing campaign effectiveness.

May 31, 2006

5 Min Read
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The ping of an alert notifies a sales representative that one of your company's best customers just opened their e-mail and logged on to your company's Web site. In real time, the sales representative digitally rushes to assist, ready to answer any questions over chat or by phone, or perhaps offer a special discount today. It's a sales organization's nirvana.

But many Web sites don't go beyond offering live chat options for technical support or assistance in determining which product is best suited for the customer. No Web analytics vendor has helped businesses reach a truly personalized, interactive paradise, but Genius is well on its way.In SalesGenius 1.0, the vendor lays the foundation for interactive, personalized communication between customers and sales representatives over the Internet.

Through the use of conventional e-mail-tracking mechanisms and a unique proxy service, SalesGenius offers not only campaign tracking but customer-behavior tracking, including the ability to replay entire Web sessions and real-time presence indicators. Other products accomplish this through the instrumentation of Web sites--which requires development time--or passively monitoring an aggregate network link--which requires setup and maintenance by IT.

Web analytics packages and services such as those from Compuware, Coradiant, NetIQ, Omniture, Quest Software and WebSideStory do have more depth to their packages, but Genius is setting the stage for the next generation of Web analytics.

Web Analytics Software Compared Click to enlarge in another window

A Good Start

For a 1.0 release, SalesGenius is intuitive, easy to use, and provides the basic data sales pros need to determine how successful an e-mail campaign has been without requiring IT's involvement. E-mail messages can be composed and sent from within Outlook or via the SalesGenius Web site.

SalesGenius can be used to track e-mail response rates both historically and in real time. Its e-mail-tracking feature uses the conventional "invisible" image-based load-tracking favored by its competitors, but that's where the similarities end.

Genius' genius is in its proxy, which tracks customers' every move once they click on the link embedded in the e-mail. The use of proxies always raises concerns about performance, though our test showed no impact on the performance of sites tracked by SalesGenius.

A real-time, Web-based presence indicator (similar to an IM client) notifies sales professionals when targeted customers open an e-mail message and when they've clicked on the Web site link. The system tracks how long the customer has spent on the site in real-time and presents historical data regarding the customer's travels through the site.

Historical data includes the number of e-mail messages sent versus the number opened, as well as the number of e-mail messages that were converted to Web site hits--helpful in measuring the effectiveness of an organization's marketing campaigns and determining the ROI of online and newsletter advertising.

Loose Ends

SalesGenius has some quirks. A customer reading an e-mail message may choose to enter the Web site in their browser if they know it, which will bypass SalesGenius and provide no data other than that the e-mail was read. Competitors like Omniture and WebSideStory will track the customer's interaction with the site regardless of where the request originates, because the tracking code is embedded in the site.

We also noticed some quirks around the use of scripting in Web pages that altered the page address directly, as well as the use of forms within a page to trigger page loads. These mechanisms wouldn't be problematic for conventional Web analytics products, but confuse some SalesGenius users. Pages arrived at via arguments passed through a form are tracked by SalesGenius, but are not shown in the replay.

SalesGenius lets customers opt out, but the tracking surrounding opt-out can be deceiving--customers who visit the site and then opt out are marked by SalesGenius as opt-out only and don't display the fact that the customer opted out after visiting the site. That information could be invaluable in determining whether the Web site experience caused the customer to opt out or if the customer simply wasn't interested in the content on the site. Customers who opt back in are tracked correctly, and the data is not lost--it's just not displayed while the customer is marked as opting out.

Organizations that can take advantage of SalesGenius ought to give it a try. Check to determine whether the site being tracked utilizes dynamically generated links and form submissions, however, so end users don't end up scratching their heads when SalesGenius's session-tracking function appears to fail.Giving appropriate professionals the ability to track e-mail campaigns and marketing messages will help them better understand the effectiveness of marketing techniques and rapidly meet customer expectations without involving IT, reducing the overall cost of marketing.

Lori MacVittie is a Network Computing senior technology editor working in our Green Bay, Wis., labs. Write to her at [email protected].

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