REVIEWER: Suzanne Konstance, product director for Pitney Bowes' PitneyWorks.com.
BACKGROUND: PitneyWorks.com is Pitney Bowes' small- business Internet site where customers and other small businesses can purchase a variety of mailing, shipping and marketing products, and services that help small businesses obtain and keep their customers. Targeting the right audience is critical for small businesses. With USADATA's service, PitneyWorks gives its customers the ability to choose their prospects based on different targeting criteria. We needed an application that could provide accurate consumer and business list counts in seconds and then deliver the lists to the customer's desktop in minutes. It was important that the application meet the value and service level requirements upheld by Pitney Bowes.
PLATFORMS: USADATA runs the platform off Dell PowerEdge Services using Microsoft Windows NT and Microsoft SQL server 7.0.
PROBLEM SOLVED: A well-targeted list is considered the most important element of direct-mail success. Many small businesses are lured into buying stale lists via CD-ROM that degrade over time and do not provide access to market research results for picking the best criteria for filtering a list. Low response rates and undeliverable mail pieces are usually the result. PitneyWorks wanted to offer a state-of-the-art system, with its own branding, that would fit seamlessly into its current Web site. In addition, PitneyWorks wanted to outsource first-line support for questions about the online list application and the data itself.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: USADATA's List Reseller Portal enables any type of reseller from a small-business Web site, traditional list broker, printer or direct marketing agency to either fulfill list orders on its own or to offer customers the ability to order lists via the Internet. Guided tours, frequently asked questions and other context-sensitive help information, in addition to intuitive design, make the application easy even for first-time list buyers. Market research-enhanced QuickPick selections allow users to take advantage of targeting techniques. Users who know the exact demographics or industry/ company size they wish to target can use the build-your-own feature to create list-targeting criteria. If a count is too large for the geography, the user can edit the selection criteria or reduce the count. Payment is made online with a credit card.
STRENGTHS: Benefits of the product include the ability for a user to either rely on market research to select a list or to build his or her own criteria and then obtain instant list counts based on selections. Usability testing of the application has demonstrated that even novices are comfortable with the application. USADATA provides first line service to Pitney Bowes by answering the phone as representatives of PitneyWorks. USADATA also integrates Pitney Bowes branding throughout the site. Finally, USADATA provides online reporting of orders that pass through the system allowing PitneyWorks to track earnings in real time.
WEAKNESSES: The ability for users to target prospects based on lifestyle research is limited to 20 categories. Pitney Bowes is consulting with USADATA to expand these categories.
SELECTION CRITERIA: USADATA's ability to mass customize and brand the application very quickly and its access to high quality data in real time were the key selection criteria. The quality of the data is a very important issue because it helps determine response rates and repeat usage. USADATA taps into Acxiom's Infobase databases for business and consumer lists a major benefit since they are widely regarded as among the best compiled lists available.
DELIVERABLES: The primary product deliverable is the PitneyWorks-branded e-commerce Web site hosted by USADATA that can be used to purchase lists from Acxiom's InfoBase database in real time.
VENDOR SUPPORT: USADATA provides a full range of customer support on behalf of PitneyWorks for the online list application. In addition, USADATA provides useful input regarding marketing programs to help build awareness and drive portal usage.
DOCUMENTATION: Most documentation is contained within the application in the form of FAQs and guided tours. Since PitneyWorks links to the USADATA-hosted site through URL links, there is essentially no information technology integration or need for detailed documentation.
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