SAS Upgrades Explore Digital Marketing

SAS has upgraded its marketing automation and marketing optimization applications with newfunctionality. While not a point release, the upgrades are worth noting because of their inclusion — for the first time — of digital marketing.

First though, to give the marketing automation and optimization upgrades their due: The new enhancements provide improved reporting, analysis and collaboration.

The digital marketing module, scheduled for release next month, layers e-mail and text messaging capabilities on top of the existing e-mail and other related functionalities. It is a small but key step forward into an area that some expect will be a leading form of customer communication — once firms figure out how to best leverage the technology, that is.

SAS is using the same technology in the new release that it already employs in its e-mail marketing products, Larry Mosiman, SAS product marketing manager for customer intelligence, told CRM Buyer. It supports not only e-mail, but also SMS (short message service), WAP (wireless application protocol) and MMS (multimedia messaging service). “It is fully capable of integrating with a campaign management application,” he said.

Nobody Live

SAS does not have any current customers using the mobile marketing capabilities, Mosiman said, but several have expressed a strong interest in the technology. “At the present time, they are only using our solution for e-mail marketing,” he acknowledged.

It is easy to understand some firms’ hesitancy in tapping this channel. A text message could easily inspire the same customer outrage that the fax marketing campaigns of 15 years ago did when customers would receive unsolicited, faxed ads that quickly added up in cost to them — not theadvertisers.

“Obviously, this is not something a firm could do randomly,” Mosiman said. He was equally blunt about other limitations to the channel, including small bandwidth, device/format differences, and network restrictions — all or any of which could serve to dampen interest until the technology is more mature.

Intriguing Possibilities

Despite the obstacles, marketers can’t help but be intrigued by its potential, Mosiman said, which is why SAS is taking a flyer on offering the technology now. “It is a new way of reaching customers — and with folks carrying around so many more devices these days, it is a way of ensuring your message grabs their attention.”

Some examples might be a hotel welcoming guests via an SMS/WAP message that provides the weather forecast and other informative links, or a bank alerting users when their account falls to a certain limit, he suggested.

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