Tech Update: Star Tech18 Oct, 2010 By: Doug McPherson Response
Even Spock would be impressed with all the technology that’s running through the veins of back-end services. Technological and reporting upgrades are continuing to evolve and improve. That’s great news for marketers seeking more return on investment and more from their media buys.
Q. What recent technology has been the most helpful to marketers?
Schloth: Of course, an order and campaign management platform is game changing. Never before have marketers had such control or transparency with their DRTV campaigns. Campaign and order management platforms are a neutral hub — they gather data feeds from all the back-end vendors and present the information to the marketer. Now the marketer has a complete, accurate, real-time view of their campaign so they know the true status of their campaign because the media efficiency ratio is constantly adjusted for returns, bad debt, cancellations, Web orders and continuity.
Pavona: The Internet and the technologies that have evolved as a result of it are helping marketers on so many fronts. Looking at reporting for example, we’re now able to offer a level of real-time, multifaceted reporting about payments that was just not the standard a few years ago. Dynamic, multi-view presentations of payments data mean that today’s payments are tomorrow’s business intelligence. In addition, as more business intelligence reporting gets pushed into the clouds, payment processing technology is going to operate like any other software as a service and platform as a service that marketers use.
de la Salle: Integrating cleared media purchases into data so that marketers are able to tie back sales to media buys and track this all the way through to returns, credit card declines and lifetime value of the consumer. Since there are so many moving parts in a DR campaign, it is as important to analyze what happens after the initial sale to determine the overall success of a campaign.
Richards: Abandon rates are a huge problem. Intelligent call routing, using interactive voice response (IVR), connects the caller to the desired location as fast and efficiently as possible. A marketer can leverage IVR using a simple menu followed by an opportunity to buy for low-touch sales, or transfer to a live agent for high-touch sales. The on-hold messaging is key. When it’s done right, such as using an informative and educational messaging, as opposed to ringing or music, abandon rates can be dramatically decreased and sales commensurately increased.
Kleinman: In 2008, more than 285 million consumer records were compromised, more than the previous four years combined. So, risk management tools to help reduce fraud are key. Our ability to examine a number of different consumer and card variables, plus testing against multiple negative databases, have allowed us to dramatically reduce fraud which has helped marketers improve their profitability.
Q. What are the key problems your field is working on today that might help marketers in the near future?
Pavona: From a feature-function set, we’ll see continued emphasis on enabling more authorizations. Consumer pressures are not likely to abate soon. That means merchants will face ongoing pressure to convert every presented payment into sale. We’ll continue to see demand for solutions such as a Smart Suite, systemically scrutinizing authorizations so that every attempted authorization leads to a settled sale. We expect increased demand for indicators designed to characterize the consumers behind payments so that merchants can use that intelligence for loyalty purposes or cross-sell and upsell opportunities. Direct response merchants, continuity and recurring billers will also be served well by growing use of tokenization and secure-vault capacities built right into the payments platforms they’re using. Ours, which is nearing broad rollout, will remove both the heavy lifting from the merchant’s plate, while reducing both scope and liability under PCI. Generally, we’ll continue to see innovation both on the feature front and the customer service front supporting it. It’s fair to say that processors will continue to differentiate themselves to the degree that payments logic that supports the unique needs of direct sellers and direct response marketers, including features supporting recurring billing and continuity payments, are built right into the platform.
de la Salle: We are only as good as the information that we receive. More detailed data will always allow the fulfillment house to provide better quality of reporting and analytics. In addition, real-time receipt of orders from telemarketing and Web vendors will ensure that we’re able to provide truly real-time reporting and the impact of the infomercial airing.
Richards: One key problem is the lack of transparency between the marketer, teleservices provider, media buyer and media provider. Google has become the great information equalizer. Vendors can no longer charge for having superior information over the marketer. The marketer is smarter and more informed today about their choices than at any time in history. The solution: online, real-time, telephone-switch level call reporting. Completely transparent call and sales data level the playing field.
Kleinman: There are several: merchant compliance as it relates to payment card industry and data pass; online fraud tools to assist marketers will make decisions at point-of-sale if it makes sense to approve a specific card transaction; and regulatory matters, including the Durbin Amendment, which would grant the Federal Reserve the right to control debit card fees. If banks are not making enough money to issue these cards, it may decrease the number of cards available to consumers, reducing spending and hurting marketers.
Q Anything else you care to add about how technological advancements are serving marketers?
Pavona: We’re increasingly confident that payment processors, as well as forward-looking, digital-savvy marketers, will continue to find new ways of leveraging the customer data embedded in every transaction. Just as digital analytics emerged to serve marketers that wanted to be able to drill down on users by identifying their Internet protocol addresses and geographic locations to achieve certain levels of penetration based on key demographics and other indicators, there will emerge next-generation payment processing solutions that will enable marketers to evaluate customers based on their shopping behavior, the types of cards they use, and even their level of income and card balance. In turn, this granularity will result in marketers being able to more precisely target individual consumers with custom campaigns and to expect optimum investment by those consumers in a merchant’s products or services based on those campaigns.
de la Salle: Technology plays an effective part in modern fulfillment, from warehouse automation, scanners used to check that the correct goods have been picked against the order, to the data warehouse and analytics suites that provide the backbone of a campaign’s success.
Richards: Our research shows that simply by using 800 numbers versus other toll-free prefixes, marketers can get 20-, 30-, even 50-percent more inbound leads. This is just one of the seemingly simple, yet vital, insights that call tracking technology reveals that the industry can gain enormous benefit from. n