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Online Marketers Transition To CRM

Acquiring visitors is only the first step to a successful Web site. Lasting success means keeping them coming back again and again.

That may explain why providers of online marketing software and services are adding customer relationship management (CRM) to their menus.

MatchLogic, the online advertising arm of Excite@Home, last week rolled out a new suite of services for managing relationships with customers.

MatchLogic is not alone in its transition from buying and selling banner ads. Players such as 24/7 Media Inc. and Yesmail.com have also made the move in recent months.

Interactive marketing firm 24/7 Media did it through acquisitions. In February, the company bought AwardTrack Inc., a developer of customized online rewards, and soon should close on its acquisition of Exactis.com, which specializes in permission-based precision e-mail marketing.

For Web site operators, the products offer a way to boost sales by analyzing customer habits and providing consumers with offers especially suited for them.

"You never make any money off a first-time customer," said analyst Jim Nail of Forrester Research. "You always lose money to acquire that first-time experience with that customer."

MatchLogic had already given in to requests from marketing customers and built special applications for analyzing customer behavior and preferences, targeting them with special offers and monitoring the results, officials said.

The online ad and marketing firms "already have a lot of the pieces," Nail said.

"The kind of personalization capabilities they've already built for their other businesses are easily transferable" to off-the-shelf CRM services.

Pricing for MatchLogic's eCRM offering will vary. For the outsourced option, sites might pay up to several hundred thousand dollars a year, officials said.

Nail said it's all about loyalty. "Customers are where all the profits come from," he said. "They don't come from first-time buyers. They come from loyal customers."


L. SCOTT TILLETT, InternetWeek

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