Shop Talk: Monetate brings real-time marketing to e-commerce

Often, e-commerce marketers waiting on slow-moving IT departments are losing time that they could be spending marketing to customers, says serial entrepreneur David Brussin.

“Because they don’t have control of their sites, [marketers] can’t create the best experience for each customer on the site,” Brussin says. “That’s been the promise of e-commerce for 10 years.”

Brussin, who co-founded Conshohocken-based and First Round Capital-funded Monetate, thinks he and co-founder David Bookspan have solved that problem. The real-time marketing platform allows marketers to skip their IT groups and keep campaigns moving as quickly as they need to, he says.

By giving e-commerce Web sites a real-time layer that enables marketers to change custom-tailored campaigns without an IT department and quickly measure the results, the job of the marketing team becomes more streamlined, and as a result, the sales site more useful to customers.

Using Monetate, customers are given a consistent sales experience starting with an email or display advertisement campaign and ending with a sale. Design and sales copy, product offerings and coupon codes promised in a specific campaign can be displayed in real-time on the e-commerce site using a single line of JavaScript.

“[Our clients] send a lot of highly segmented emails because they perform better,” he says. “Where Monetate comes into the picture is when someone views one of those emails. We can run corresponding campaigns on the actual e-commerce site to pull in the message, creative design and copy and even the offer into a single site experience.”

Additionally, data is collected anonymously to help improve customer experiences.

“We understand when a visitor comes in, where they’re coming from and what city. We know which of our client’s bricks and mortor competition might be in the neighborhood,” he says. Campaigns can be custom-tailored to offer competing offers against those stores, he says. Recently, Monetate also began offering a turn-key mobile platform which creates a native Web experience for customers overnight.

The company charges a yearly fee for the platforms and also sells in-depth customer service to help companies with advanced functionality. With customers like QVC, Urban Outfitters, Casual Male Retail Group and others, whom Brussin says are “making a ton of money” from the real-time marketing product, business is well.

It doesn’t hurt, either, that there’s little competition in the market. “We don’t really have a ton of competitors that actually solve the core problem of allowing the marketer to step out of the constraints of their [platform],” he says.

In 1996 while his friends in Silicon Valley were working on consumer-facing businesses, college-bound Brussin launched InfoSec Labs, a business-to-business venture dedicated to helping Fortune 1000 companies transition online. He sold the company to SafeNet three years later.

Brussin moved to Philadelphia for his second venture, ePrivacy Group Inc., which was focused on protecting email marketing distribution methods and wasn’t commercially successful. “There were alot of changes coming in email. We saw spam and phishing and other threats dilluting a hugely valuable channel,” he says.

But something good did come from his experience with ePrivacy Group. With lessons learned there, the company created in 2003 a way to filter spam using an Internet router, the first of its kind, and six months after founding TurnTide Inc., the company was acquired by Symantec in a $28 million deal.

Though he spent time involved with the investment and board side of business after the deal, he couldn’t resist coming back to solve problems. “I always knew the path for me was back into the operating side,” he says. No surprise.