I am really excited about the potential of our partnerships with Coremetrics, Omniture, WebSideStory, and WebTrends.  Marrying word-of-mouth and clickstream data will enable us to pioneer analyses that have never before been possible.  Ultimately, it will increase our clients' customer IQ.

Ever since I took my first marketing class at the University of Texas at Austin, I have been fascinated by customer behavior.  It has been the driving theme of my career.  What has been most exciting to me is being there when a company finds out how their customers really behave and the lightbulb goes on.  When their customer IQ is increased.

At Coremetrics, I had the good fortune of seeing this transition many times.  It was the biggest part of what drew me to start the business in the first place and, especially, with a services model at its core.  It is hard for me to believe now, but back in 1999 the acronym "ASP" ("Application Service Provider") didn't exist.  I knew from my background in consulting that an outsourced model for Web analytics would ultimately be the best way to deliver real analysis to clients.  Because of my background, this was intuitive to me; it just made sense.  It was later, in 2000, when someone told me, "you guys are an ASP".  The label had been born, although I'm not sure who gave birth.  Label or not, the business model works.  The ideal ASP is a marriage of services and software to create an ever-evolving solution.

At Coremetrics, it was exciting to be with a client when they saw, for the first time, where they had been wasting their online marketing dollars and decide how to reinvest their budget.  Or witness that the home page creative they had debated for hours every week really didn't drive sales like they thought it did.  Or learn that a product had an abnormally high shopping cart abandonment rate and they could increase sales by tweaking the price, the message, or the placement.  Or see their customers close their browser when the "next step" button on their checkout page was below the fold.  We drove real value.  Got real feedback.  Turned on the lightbulbs.  Liberated with data.  And ensured that the service would always work.  And customer IQ skyrocketed.

And now I am seeing the same thing here at Bazaarvoice.  Except this time the data are conversations.  Conversations between real customers.  When customers speak to each other, they do so in a different way than they speak to companies.  They speak in an authentic way.  They have no agenda.  Do you really care if your friend sees the movie you spent five minutes telling them about?  Not really.  You just want to express yourself.  The pursuit of the real.  There is a little bit of maven in all of us.  It's human nature.  It's called word of mouth.  And it is only increasing as we get overloaded with marketing messages and choices with the compression of less time.

Our clients are dramatically increasing their customer IQ.  They are tapping into conversations that they have never heard before.  And it is driving their business in fundamentally new ways.  Straight from the customer's mouth to the EVP of Merchandising's ear – direct and authentic.  Products will evolve.  Customer service will morph.  Marketing will change.  And customers will vote with a renewed sense of loyalty.  This will be taught in business schools one day.

I am going to make a prediction.  When you put website analytics and word-of-mouth analytics together, it will have a synergistic effect on customer IQ.  And, to me, that is very exciting.  For our clients, it will be game-changing.

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