Instead of filling your inbox with more predictions for the year to come, I thought it would be much more useful for me to highlight some of the companies that I will be watching in 2012. Several of these companies shared their solutions on panels at Mediapost Email Insider Summits in 2011 and piqued my interest. Others are companies I have been introduced to by clients or trusted colleagues. Still others we already use on a regular basis. I’ve studied or used them all and consider all worthy of a quick look to see if they might be able to help take your program to the next level in 2012.
An important note: these aren’t email service providers. They can all be used with your current ESP. These companies offer complementary services that can be integrated into your current program with no or limited integration.
Disclosure: We do have relationships with BriteVerify and Connection Engine as clients of theirs (which hopefully makes my endorsement more credible, not less). We are currently providing services to two Windsor Circle clients.
1. 8 Seconds – A platform for the real-time optimization of subject lines and images within your email. The company’s software allows you to design the test, upload images, and provides code snippets to be dropped into your HTML before sending from your ESP. When the email is sent, the software begins analyzing the results and to identify the winning image, or images, and will serve the winner to subsequent openers once the best option is identified. While some ESPs have similar functionality, 8 Seconds’ big advantage is the ability to execute multivariate tests.
2. BriteVerify – This company’s tagline says it all: “The fastest, simplest, most accurate and reliable email verification service on Earth.” Place its code on your registration form and use it to get immediate confirmation that the address entered is, in fact, mailable.
3. Connection Engine – Profiling a customer list used to be an expensive and time-consuming project. Connection Engine allows you to get a clear understanding of your subscriber base simply by uploading your email list (with appropriate security measures in place). Where do they live? What are their interests? Use this tool to ensure that your messages are on-target for the audience you actually have as opposed to the one you “think” you have.
4. GroupVine – Surveys can be a real challenge inside of your email since forms aren’t generally supported. GroupVine has developed technology that makes it possible to both include surveys and email AND show the real-time results in the email. It does require a small services engagement to set up, but the user experience make this something to consider as an innovative engagement tactic.
5. LiveIntent – “The real-time ad platform for email.” LiveIntent serves both advertisers and publishers through an online trading desk where advertisers can find ad inventory in email (with several notable publishers) and publishers can sell ad space within their emails. The company also provides a robust set of tools for targeting and optimization that historically were only available in the display advertising space.
6. RapLeaf – OK, maybe this isn’t a new name, but this isn’t the same RapLeaf. The company has retooled itself to serve email marketers by providing access to data through an open API that can be used to personalize email marketing messages for factors such as age, gender, income, and whether or not customers are likely to be smartphone users. Of course, this is all available in real time, which is nice for targeted welcome messages.
7. RevTrax – Something for retailers with a brick-and-mortar presence to consider. RevTrax offers a robust online couponing engine that provides a variety of fraud protection safeguards, while supporting mobile and social media, and providing a robust reporting solution. Best thing in my mind is the option for single-use coupons that allows for a one-to-one match back to specific campaigns (e.g., email, banner, search, affiliate, mobile, etc.) and to individuals in your CRM database to help improve targeting.
8. SeeWhy – According to See Why, seven out of every 10 online shopping carts are abandoned. The company’s tools help you track and re-engage these people in real time through Email, Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps just as important, SeeWhy provides an ongoing education series on the latest trends and best practices on the topic, to help you optimize conversion and minimize the likelihood you simply train people to abandon for that coveted 10% Off coupon.
9. Windsor Circle – Email is all about sending the right message to the right person at the right time, right? Windsor Circle integrates with your ESP to create segments based on behavioral data. The company collects purchase history data, builds segments, and then uploads the data back into your ESP. While this type of behavioral segmentation is something we have been talking about for years, few are doing it, because it’s always been damn hard to implement. Windsor Circle makes it much easier by doing the heavy lifting for you.
There are many more great companies out there, but these are a few I will be watching in 2012 -- not just for what they are doing today, but based on the innovations I witnessed in 2011, and my expectation that they will continue to innovate in the year ahead.
Please share any noteworthy newcomers I’ve missed; there are plenty! And to anyone who feels slighted by not making this list, please accept my apology in advance.