Wednesday, May 19, 2010

DemandBase Adds Real-Time Access to Web Visitor Identities

Summary: DemandBase has added real-time access to its data identifying Web site visitors, enabling Web sites to deliver customized pages. It's another step in the company's systematic expansion.

It’s more than a year since my original post about DemandBase. At the time, they had just extended their product beyond basic IP-address-based Web visitor identification to provide company details and contact names. Last week they announced their next leap forward, an API to return detailed company information quickly enough to use it to tailor visitor treatments.
Specifically, ABR returns data within 10 milliseconds of the initial page request, in time to customize even the first page served. According to DemandBase, this compares with one to two seconds for conventional IP address look-ups.

ABR gains its speed by querying DemandBase’s own database rather than querying external directories. This is one of those things that is harder than it sounds. DemandBase built its database by monitoring which IP addresses most often visit its 2,000-plus clients, parsing multiple external IP directories for the owners and geo-locations of the servers at those addresses, and adding attributes from business directories including D&B, Hoovers and JigSaw. The company says it can associate three times as many visitors with U.S. business addresses as a conventional IP lookup.

Once it finds a match, ABR will return 15-20 client-selected company attributes including size, industry and corporate parent. The system can also apply and return a client’s own data, such as the salesperson assigned to a company and custom classifications for size or industry. These features were already available from DemandBase: what's new with ABR is exposing the data to other applications through a real time API.

One use for the data is to feed rules that send different messages to different sets of customers and prospects. DemandBase is also working to use the data to route chat requests to appropriate agents. Another benefit is sending shorter registration forms to system-identified visitors, improving completion rates while still capturing complete profile data. The system also improves Web analytics by flagging responses from specific companies and market segments, even when visitors fail to identify themselves, delete cookies, or reach the site without clicking on email links.

ABR is still a bit rough around the edges. In particular, there are no prebuilt connectors for specific application systems (Web site engines, CRM systems or analytics tools), so clients are on their own when it comes to integrating the information they receive. The first connectors are due shortly. Similarly, client data such as customers and sales people must currently be loaded by DemandBase staff. This will also change, first with a self-service file upload and eventually with a direct API connection.

Pricing for ABR is set at $2,500 per month for unlimited use. This is beyond the reach of many small businesses, but affordable for companies with the technical savvy and visitor volume to benefit from the system.

Beyond its intrinsic merits, ABR is an interesting illustration of DemandBase’s continuing effort to separate itself from the commodity businesses of IP lookup and compiled data. The company started by giving away its basic service, identification of company visitors to Web sites, to quickly build a large base of clients and partners. It then added value by enhancing the data with business directory information and making it easy to buy the names of individual contacts. ABR further expands the company’s footprint by using its data to enhance other systems, moving it beyond the business of selling stand-alone software. Clever folks.

1 comment:

Sam Brown said...

David, I recently came across a free tool called MeetLeads, and it seems to be pretty good at generating sales leads online. It could be a free alternative to DemandBase for cost-sensitive business owners. Just wanted to share with you.