Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kwanzoo Builds Content for Cross-Channel Marketing

I first bumped into Kwanzoo about a year ago at a conference trade show and was frankly puzzled at what they offered. The mechanics were clear: a tool to generate HTML-based forms, surveys, banner ads, and social sharing links that could be used on Web sites or embedded in emails. What puzzled me was the advantage of this over anyone else’s HTML content, including the content that could be generated using standard tools within most marketing automation systems.

Since this particular mystery ranked somewhere between the fate of Amelia Earhardt  and Nacza Lines  in my personal priorities, I didn’t investigate further. But the company reached out to me recently and provided a clearer explanation. Here’s the story.

What makes Kwanzoo special is it creates a sequence of Web pages that can be deployed as a single unit. A typical sequence would be a survey followed by different offers depending on the visitor’s answers. The entire sequence is built in Kwanzoo and deployed as a code snippet which displays the survey and calls the subsequence pages from Kwanzoo when appropriate. The second thing that makes Kwanzoo special is that its pages can be deployed on a client’s own Web site, on external sites and ad networks, embedded in emails, within Facebook, or on a mobile device. Users can also apply Kwanzoo tags to conversion pages to track results.

These capabilities make Kwanzoo substantially more versatile than a conventional marketing automation system, which would rely on campaign flows or manually-embedded links to manage the page sequence and could only deploy on emails or microsites generated by the marketing automation system itself. By contrast, users design the flows by filling out a simple form within Kwanzoo and then receive HTML snippets – simple calls to Kwanzoo-hosted URLS – that can be embedded anywhere. Kwanzoo also provides a powerful editor to build the Web pages and offers.

Data captured by Kwanzoo can be directly posted to Eloqua, Marketo, Constant Contact and The Eloqua integration is especially elegant, using an Eloqua Cloud Connector (i.e., a parameterized API call) that makes the Kwanzoo pages available within Eloqua’s own content builder and can read Eloqua cookies in real time to help guide the response selection. Integration is on the way with other marketing automation and CRM systems.

Users can also apply IP-address-based visitor identification to tailor responses to named accounts and different industries.

Kwanzoo says this versatility addresses some critical pain-points for marketers, including needs to create content and capture data across multiple channels and to create more personalized interactions. True enough.  But the system has its limits, most notably that sequences are limited to a couple of steps, a few data inputs, and a handful of actions, and that it doesn't maintain its own marketing database.

In other words, Kwanzoo is more a bridge between different marketing channels than an integrated marketing system. It’s easy to imagine Kwanzoo-captured data making its way back to multiple systems (marketing automation, CRM, Web site, mobile, etc.), which is not the ideal situation. There’s certainly a market today for this approach: Kwanzoo has landed about 25 clients since its launch in 2010 and seems to be growing nicely. Still, you have to wonder whether integrated platforms will eventually add similar capabilities tied directly to their own databases, making Kwanzoo’s external bridge less necessary.

Or, even more directly, will Adobe offer pretty much the same capability?  They already have the dominant tools for content-building (Dreamweaver, etc.) and Web visitor tracking (Omniture), which are the two key pieces of Kwanzoo's offering.  I long ago predicted that Adobe would combine these to create "smart content" that would adjust to customer behavior, although so far Adobe hasn't listened.  But they could.

But that’s Kwanzoo’s problem, not yours or mine, eh? At the moment, it’s worth a look. Pricing is based on number of impressions and starts as low as $499 per month to put Kwanzoo units on Web pages.  It quickly rises to $2,499 to embed units in emails, post data other than basic lead capture, support mobile formats, and use IP-address information for targeting.  

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