E-Business Gets Personal

Privacy has been a hot topic for e-commerce companies lately, but there is now an even hotter “P” buzzword rattling throughout the industry: “Personalization.”

More than ever, companies are responding to research data showing that customers want e-commerce tools with a personal touch.

Non-partisan think tank Privacy & American Business recently released the results of a survey that was underwritten by a grant from DoubleClick.

According to the survey, 61 percent of respondents are interested in receiving banner advertisements that are tailored to their personal preferences.

Additionally, between 51 and 68 percent of those polled would agree to have information based on their offline and online transactions used to personalize banner ads if informed of how their information would be used and if given the chance to “opt out” of selected uses.

Personalization Technology Gains Ground

Internet software developer Open Market, Inc., recently teamed with NetMind Technologies, Inc. to create an e-commerce management application with NetMind’s patented personalization technology.

The new product will enable e-businesses to personalize their sites, as well as customize Web-based information at any level of detail and notify customers when that information changes. “By integrating Minder Application Server with Open Market’s Transact, e-businesses will be able to better communicate with, and retain, loyal customers,” said NetMind CEO Matt Freivald.

Personalization is gaining ground in other non-PC devices, as well. AT&T PocketNet subscribers will soon be able to get everything from personalized news, lottery, horoscopes, their calendar, e-mail and more right on their AT&T PocketNet device.

Getting Personal With Correspondence

Many e-commerce companies are using this new-found technology to get away from the not-so-personal touch and exploit a major avenue of personalization — targeted correspondence.

For example, Trigon Healthcare,Inc., will soon take advantage of technology provided by Cincom Systems to implement the first intranet-based personalized correspondence generation system. The healthcare company generates thousands of letters monthly to providers and policyholders regarding claims.

At present, processors must hand-type all of the unique information in each letter. The new system will allow the processors to select a standard letter, enter unique information, automatically insert key fields, display the letter on the screen for verification, and send the letter to either the mailroom for batch production or to a local printer.

With the right degree of personalization, mass marketing does not have to be so bad. E.piphany,Inc., and BroadVisionInc., have introduced technology that will enable e-commerce companies to deliver personalized interactions based on customer profiles. This technology will analyze Web site activity to create highly targeted e-mail and cross-channel campaigns without the blitz-like nature of spam.

According to Roger Siboni, President and CEO of E.piphany, “As the rapid growth of the Internet continues to reduce traditional customer loyalties and intensify competition, businesses are seeking new ways to increase the value of customer relationships.”

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