Real-time analysis of customer behavior was once only something a marketer could dream about. Understanding the customer in an historic, current, and future setting gives powerful insights to businesses and has engendered a new marketing paradigm. Webtrends knows that this arena of data analytics is nothing short of a revolution and has adroitly shifted their focus to meet this new demand. We talked with Steve Earl, Director of Product Strategy at Webtrends, to learn more.
insideBIGDATA: Webtrends has been around for more than 20 years and has gone through quite a few changes. Where is the company now? What are your major products and services?
Steve Earl: As consumer sophistication increases, so does impatience and expectation – consumers demand personal experiences on the device or channel of their choosing and it must be tailored to their needs in the very moment they interact with the brand. We at Webtrends anticipated this revolution and have rapidly evolved existing solutions and built innovative new solutions to provide marketers with the ability to take action, at the right time with the right content, across all digital touch points.
This is the new marketing imperative – to optimize and impact the customer journey, as it happens, based on a complete understanding of a customer’s behaviors – historical, current and predictive. This “in-the-moment marketing” marks a true web analytics revolution from historical, aggregate reporting toward as-it-happens, visitor-centric marketing optimization. We have a vision to lead and drive this new generation of data-driven marketing optimization.
To fulfill this vision, our focus is on enabling digital executives to fully leverage the richest set of customer data available – historical, current session, current event and anticipated next steps — to drive their marketing programs and deliver relevant, targeted and consistent experiences to their customers. The core of our strategy is deep integration with the marketing ecosystem to fully maximize our client’s existing investments in marketing technology. Webtrends also stands apart by providing a team of experts, which can help our customers fully leverage technology and a strong ecosystem of partner integrations.
Webtrends experience and scale with digital analytics and our recent innovations across our measurement solutions provide a forward-looking platform for data-driven marketing optimization.
Our current solution portfolio consists of:
- Performance Marketing
- Precision Targeting
- Behavioral Remarketing
insideBIGDATA: Big Data is still relatively in its nascent stages. When and how and why did your company embrace this momentous trend?
Steve Earl: We see big data as the enabling technology that will move marketing to be truly data-driven. Webtrends has years of experience with big data technologies and it has been a core component of our new products. Our early experience in high performance real-time and big data platforms came with our acquisition of Reinvigorate back in 2011. We leveraged those early ideas to build out powerful infrastructures to support new solutions, including our consumption of social data, along with our Heatmaps solution. As we started to rethink and reinvent ad-hoc solutions, our attention turned toward next generation distributed computing platforms. Our Engineers worked very closely with the AMP Lab team at UC Berkeley, which lead to us becoming a founding contributor to a solution known as Spark. Spark is now a full Apache project leveraged by many companies around the world. Webtrends is at the leading edge of innovation in this area and our clients are benefiting through solutions such as Webtrends Streams and now Webtrends Explore.
insideBIGDATA: What does Webtrends offer its customers specifically in the data analytics realm?
Steve Earl: Webtrends Measurement Solutions provide the foundation for data-driven marketing and is a comprehensive program that extends data analytics from reporting on historical behaviors to driving action in the moment. Across the multi-channel customer journey, it enables marketers to analyze, optimize and act.
The analyze component allows users to deeply understand the results of their marketing investments by providing them with easily digestible reports and dashboards, which they can research and learn from. The optimize portion is our way of taking those learnings and implementing new strategies, which better serve business goals and are based on hard facts. The act portion of our strategy is to allow our clients to execute on their marketing programs by integrating real-time streaming visualizations on visitor-level data with remarketing systems within their marketing ecosystem
insideBIGDATA: Which companies are using these solutions?
Steve Earl: Digital marketers, data analysts and data scientists within medium to enterprise sized companies worldwide use Webtrends. The purchaser budget is typically owned ultimately by marketing executives, with an increasing influence and ownership from the CIO’s budget. Buyers are the CMO, VP Marketing, Director of Marketing/Digital Marketing.
We have customers in all major industries that have an online presence including Finance, Retail, CPG, Public Sector, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Media, Technology, Travel & Hospitality. Our top 4 target industries are Financial Services, Travel/Hospitality, Retail & Technology and we target 4 major geographies – N.A., EMEA, APAC and South America with our fastest growing markets being EMEA and Australia/NZ.
A few of our current customers include Microsoft, BMW, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Kimberly Clark, The Telegraph, npower, Lastminute.com and Mindjet.
insideBIGDATA: What are the biggest challenges for you in this space?
Steve Earl: There are a couple of big challenges here. One is that the customer journey is continually evolving. There was a time when marketers could simply measure how customers were interacting with their website. Now companies need to consider web activity, social media, exposure to traditional advertising and mobile devices including tablets and smartphones. Brands have to continually evolve along with their customers to understand how they are ultimately converting. This will remain a challenge indefinitely.
Another issue is the overwhelming amount of data that exists and the intimidation factor for marketers. With the ability to track so much information, brands are challenged with understanding where to start and what their strategy should be. Furthermore, once a business decides on what and how to track data, they are often faced with the challenge of not being able to act on it. Collecting big data is great, but if companies are not able to act on that data then it is a waste of time and effort.
We focus on helping companies overcome this challenge by providing the expertise along with the technology that enables our clients to not only understand their customer’s online behaviors, but also discover new opportunities to act on this rich intelligence.
Big Data technologies are reducing the barrier to entry into the digital analytics market. There is a larger volume of smaller analytics providers than there was just a few years ago. It’s important for the market to understand that Big Data is an enabling technology, not the end solution to the client. Providing enterprise class solutions and services takes experience, maturity and discipline, something Webtrends has developed over the last 20 years.
insideBIGDATA: As a company that needs to be on the cutting edge you must always be ahead of the game. What does 2-3 years down the road look like for the industry and for Webtrends?
Steve Earl: What will happen with the big data revolution is similar to data warehousing 20 years ago. Everyone had a DW initiative and many failed because they were a technology solution looking for a problem to solve. Those that were successful focused on a specific set of use cases that solved a set of well-defined business problems (called “Data Marts”). The companies that will be most successful will be those that leverage big data technologies to solve well-defined problems.
In the next few years, the imperative for marketing to be “data-driven” will force big data & digital analytics to converge becoming the standard for applying big data to marketing. Webtrends is already heading down this path, utilizing big data technologies to enable in-the-moment marketing. The chasm between reporting and action will be crossed and the digital analytics vendors that do not have major investments in big data today will be even further behind in the future.
A major focus for us in the next 2-3 years will be increasing our predictive capabilities. We are continually working to grow our abilities to understand customer behavior, intent and next best action. The end goal will be to help our customers create a completely optimized and customized client experience that drives conversion rates. We are investing more in our streaming data capabilities and working on innovating our technology to discover more information and then use that data to engage with customers. Many of our clients are already moving towards this strategy and we expect to see the majority adopt within the next couple of years.