Database Marketing Review of ClickSquared`s Cross

Database Marketing Review of ClickSquared`s Cross
DM p1 Cover Jan 2012.qxp
Page 1
Putting insight at the heart of marketing
January 2012 Issue 145
Mike Fisher considers the value exchange
that underpins all direct marketing activity
Who has the courage to fire the
bottom 25% of their customer base?
Testing, testing and more testing is
the key to integrating email into a
multichannel marketing strategy
DM p20-21 Software Review Jan2012.qxp
Page 20
Crossing the channels
made easier than ever
ClickSquared’s newest cloud-based cross-channel marketing platform offers great power and detailed
control of direct channel marketing for more experienced techies but with an easy to use, intuitive
interface it is also ideal for non-technical users, finds James Lawson.
lickSquared’s latest cloud-based
marketing platform, the Cross-Channel
Marketing Hub, majors on integration
and ease-of-use. This high-end
application is all about service, both in its SaaS
delivery model and in how the package is
supported by ClickSquared’s many other
marketing services. How does it measure up?
In-house installations are not an option with the
Hub, with all the spade work handled by the
vendor or its partners in a similar way to the
traditional MSP-hosted database model.
Managing the underlying (extremely fast) IBM
Netezza database is a good example of this.
ClickSquared and its partners use the hygiene
and ETL tools in the background, and the end
users don’t see anything except a clean database,
though they can still export data and upload their
own lists. Many other facilities are on offer from
variable printing, data integration and analytics to
email fulfillment and even packaged loyalty
Ease-of-use was obviously one of the main
goals for the software development team. The
interface is extremely intuitive and consistent
across all functions and modules. There’s no sign
of a bought-in piece of software being hastily
shoehorned into the package: it’s all very organic.
Extending the package simply means switching
on and configuring other modules, a simple task
with SaaS software.
At the heart of the Hub’s base module is an
elegantly-executed version of what is now the
industry-standard approach to planning, a
versatile and beautiful, drag-and-drop, objectbased campaign builder which will delight
novices and pro users alike. This is used to
construct everything from a multi-stage direct
mail, telemarketing and email campaign to a
single web-hosted survey.
The planning process starts with scheduling
the campaign and runs through segmenting and
January 2012
selecting the audience. Only then is it time to
work out which channels to employ and to
decide how to allocate offers and creative
treatments to each channel/segment
The user simply drags the tools for audience
selection onto the palette, then links them
together in the required order. A task like adding
a suppression or filtering stage to the selection
process takes seconds. Managing the channels
and their content uses the same method via a
second set of tools.
At each point, double-clicking on an object on
the workspace gives detailed access to the rules
and other functions under the bonnet with
various other interfaces relevant to the task in
hand popping up as required.
That might be to build out a more
sophisticated query using the various parameters
and operators on offer there, to create derived
fields, modify the logic used for variable email
content selection or to trigger the selection of
certain customer types based on date or any
other relevant variable.
ClickSquared has a long history in email
marketing and this shows in the state-of-the-art
functionality offered via the built-in email editor
and in the fine control available for the use of
variable text and other content. “Logic blocks”
are a good example. Constructed in the
campaign builder and saved as re-usable objects,
the email designer only needs to drag the logic
block into the HTML code to drive dynamic
It’s as powerful as scripting but a lot easier to
use. The email test and optimisation facilities are
also robust, as are the overall campaign approval
and validation facilities.
Other channels explicitly supported by the
package include direct mail, telemarketing and
mobile. The first two have little dedicated
functionality as work simply involves setting up
campaigns and then exporting lists.
It’s possible to link in via the Hub’s API to look
up customer details and offers from a call centre
application. A dedicated mobile module has a full
range of options including coupons, barcoding,
SMS polling, MMAS compliance and short code
The base package has more than adequate
content management tools, with collaborative
capabilities for review and approval, and the
ability to restrict the editing of templates to
maintain company design guidelines.
More generally, this user access control can
restrict privileges in other areas like campaign
The Hub’s spreadsheet-style Discover module
offers more of a Business Intelligence take on
exploring customer data. Here you can drag and
drop variables into tables and charts, drill down
to the detail, or pivot, sort, filter and cross-tab
multiple dimensions against each other. This
functions as another way to select and handily
also serves to publish reports of counts and
segments to a wider audience. Again the
software balances power, functionality and
usability nicely.
Reporting is fine, if not outstanding. There’s a
bank of standard templates covering testing,
campaign results by cell and so forth but no
report builder, which is in keeping with the
“Essential functions don’t hide four clicks in, but are
presented and linked logically, and in context with all
other functions necessary to complete any given
campaign task.”
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A real strength of ClickSquared’s
latest offering is the slickness of
the user interface, while
underneath it sits an exceptionally
powerful suite of tools ideal for
both experienced and non-technical
intended user base. The vendor will certainly be
able to generate custom report templates for
clients if required, and the Discover tool does
offer some ad hoc reporting functions.
The social media module has an excellent set
of features that link Facebook and Twitter with
complementary channels like web and email. A
white-labelled version of Offerpop’s platform, it
nonetheless fits well with the base and other
Content like games and competitions can be
hosted on the Hub and deployed from there to
the corporate Facebook page where customers
can click through to bring that content to their
own wall. There are standard processes to get
fans to opt in to your marketing database and
dedupe their email address on entry too.
The vendor again takes the user-friendly route
with modelling. Rather than the expert
developmental approach of hardcore stats tools,
there’s a bank of proven descriptive (like RFM)
and predictive (next best offer, response) models
on offer. Again presented as a plug-in module,
the models simply slot into the database and are
ready for use immediately.
A dedicated digital tracking and reporting
module offers the expected email and landing
page metrics. It can track social media actions like
“refer to friend” and “share with my network”
too. Additionally, third party web analytics
information can be imported and integrated into
the Hub’s database.
Other modules include a survey designer with
a good toolset and plenty of standard templates
to work with. Once again, good integration
means you can build a whole workflow in the
Hub to manage survey responses and trigger
further actions.
The development roadmap includes a
collaboration module with document mark-up
tools and workflow to automatically route tasks
such as creative approval. Support for a raw SQL
selection interface will arrive in a future release.
In summary, the Hub offers great power and
detailed control of direct channel marketing, but
still remains accessible for even non-technical
users. Essential functions don’t hide four clicks in,
but are presented and linked logically, and in
context with all other functions necessary to
complete a campaign task.
ClickSquared ends up looking rather like the
Apple of the marketing software world: a very
competent set of features, beautifully packaged
and delivered with a number of sector-specific
versions – and no need to go elsewhere for
anything from email fulfillment to database
With its ability to connect to and work with
external software, data and services, the Hub
does thankfully stop short of Apple’s walled
garden approach. It only remains for potential
clients to find out how pricing and the rest of the
corporate package measure up to the
competition. n
Pricing and Specifications
The Cross-Channel Marketing Hub is a SaaS-only
product; no installed version is available.
Beyond the set-up fee, monthly pricing for the
base module is tiered by the number of records in the
customer database. Similar charges apply to the Social
(number of fans or followers) and the Survey modules.
Message delivery for email and SMS is charged by
volume after initial set-up.
January 2012
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