Neustar commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) study and examine the potential return on investment (ROI) that enterprises may realize with Neustar PlatformOne. The purpose of this study is to provide readers with a framework to evaluate the potential financial impact of PlatformOne on their organizations, specifically by tailoring content and improving a potential buyer’s online experience based on user profiling.
To better understand the benefits, costs, and risks associated with PlatformOne, Forrester interviewed an existing customer of Neustar with nearly two years of experience using PlatformOne. The interviewed organization sells technology to businesses and consumers around the globe.
Prior to PlatformOne, the customer didn’t use any tools to identify or profile incoming traffic to its website. Because about 40% of the company’s visitors were anonymous, company executives used trial and error and A/B testing to identify the optimal products or campaigns that would convert visitors into customers.
With PlatformOne, the organization was able to profile and segment a much higher percentage of visitors. Instead of a single, static eCommerce site, the company deployed dozens (soon to be hundreds) of content combinations that line up with the unique interests of potential customers. During the first year of using PlatformOne, the conversion rate from previously anonymous visitors increased by 40%. In response, the manager of customer analytics stated: “PlatformOne completely changed the way we think about our customers. We’ve evolved from our old way of thinking about products and are now creating messages that center on customer lifestyles.”
NEUSTAR INCREASES CONVERSIONS BY 25%
From the interview and financial analysis of the customer, Forrester found that the organization experienced results as shown in Figure 1. The analysis shows benefits of more than $3.1 million versus implementation and ongoing costs of more than $1.4 million, adding up to a net present value (NPV) of nearly $1.7 million.
Benefits. The organization experienced the following risk-adjusted benefits:
- Increased conversion rate of anonymous visitors. This benefit looks at the net profit from increased revenues from converting a higher percentage of anonymous customers who visited the company site. Using PlatformOne increased the conversion rate by 40% in Year 1, 23% in Year 2, and 11% in Year 3. This benefit totals a three-year risk-adjusted present value of $3,136,522.
Costs. The organization experienced the following risk-adjusted costs:
- Subscription cost of Neustar PlatformOne. The organization pays an annual subscription price of $450,000 for PlatformOne. In addition, the customer pays $100,000 annually for professional services that include technical and analytics services. Over three years, this adds up to a present value of $1,436,157.
- Training and learning curve to leverage PlatformOne. This takes into account the time invested by the customer’s organization to learn how to use PlatformOne and improve the quality of its results. The five analysts who use PlatformOne required about 6 hours of training before using the tool. In addition, each user required an average of one day per month of instruction for six months. The total cost of training is a present value of $12,493.
Forrester interviewed a Neustar customer with nearly two years of using PlatformOne. The manager of customer analytics described the company as a technology reseller that serves consumers and businesses around the globe. The organization is using PlatformOne to segment incoming, anonymous visitors to its eCommerce website. Executives anticipate the ability to use PlatformOne for additional purposes in the future, including deduplication.
Forty percent of the incoming traffic to the organization’s eCommerce website consists of anonymous visitors, rather than registered or known users. With a conversion rate of 13%, the organization was looking for ways to improve its appeal to these unknown visitors. Ultimately, the organization’s goal is for anonymous users to become registered visitors by providing their contact information or to become customers by making a purchase. Prior to using PlatformOne:
- Online activity was skewed toward the unknown, with 40% of traffic coming from anonymous visitors.
- The company averaged a website sales conversion rate of 13%.
The organization adopted PlatformOne. Neustar PlatformOne is a marketing platform that enables sellers to connect more closely with customers by tailoring messages to be more compelling to prospects. It provides a single view of customers and prospects across channels and devices. PlatformOne is based on Neustar’s Authoritative Identity methodology, which is created from user contact information such as phone numbers, email addresses, and Internet browsing data. Neustar uses authoritative data from hundreds of sources to profile consumers and provide specific insight in real time, allowing visitors to be routed to different landing pages optimized to convert them based on their interests. These capabilities enabled the interviewed organization to segment anonymous visitors so that they experienced messages tailored to their unique preferences and lifestyle choices.
The interview revealed that:
- Segmenting anonymous users based on customer lifestyle choices significantly increases conversion rates. PlatformOne segmentation goes well beyond demographics. The organization used PlatformOne to segment users and tailor content to the interests and lifestyle choices appealing to visitors, as well as brand and buying propensities. The result was an average increase of 24% per year. The increase in conversion rates was from 13% to 24.7% over three years.
- Using PlatformOne requires nominal training, but mastering its capabilities takes about six months. Employees required about 6 hours of self-guided orientation to effectively start using PlatformOne, but users had a learning curve that lasted about six months to use the more sophisticated features and more thoroughly understand how to parse customer segmentation data.
The interviewed organization used PlatformOne to understand the interests and profiles of website visitors who were previously anonymous. The organization is a large technology vendor with a global presence. It had annual online sales of $450 million and was growing at 15% before adopting PlatformOne.
Increased Conversion Rate Of Anonymous Visitors
During the first year of using PlatformOne, the organization’s conversion rate rose by 40%. The conversion rate leveled off to 23% in Year 2 and to 11% in Year 3 (see Table 1). The increase in conversion rate is cumulative; an increase in Year 2 is on top of the increase experienced in Year 1. Over the three years in Forrester’s financial model, an increase from 6% in Year 1 to 10.3% in Year 3 amounts to a 72% cumulative increase to the organization’s conversion rate from using PlatformOne.
The percentage uplift that readers from other companies should experience from circumstances similar to the interviewed organization will depend on several variables, including the amount of revenue from online channels, percentage of anonymous users, average profit margins, and baseline conversion rates. As such, Forrester applied a 15% risk to the benefit. The risk-adjusted benefit from increasing the conversion rate of anonymous users over the three years totaled $5,073,178. See the section on Risks for more detail.
In addition to the benefits quantified thus far, Forrester’s interview with the customer organization highlighted additional benefits that it was unable to quantify. The customer had not been tracking some existing probable benefits and was just beginning to realize improvement in other areas. These unquantified benefits include:
- Improved lifetime value of customers. The organization is just beginning to trace the lifetime value of customers back to their initial activity as anonymous visitors. Executives in the organization believe that marketing to lifestyles attracts more customers and increases their overall lifetime value through larger purchases and more frequent return purchases, but the data to substantiate this conclusion is still being analyzed.
- Saved marketing costs from deduplication. A benefit of using PlatformOne is the ability to deduplicate unique user profiles that originate from disparate sources (e.g., email address versus phone number). The interviewed organization has not yet used the deduplication capabilities of PlatformOne, however, because the the organization’s deduplication process resides with a business unit separate from the one that Forrester interviewed.
The interviewed organization experienced a number of costs associated with the Neustar PlatformOne solution:
- Subscription cost of PlatformOne.
- Training and learning curve to leverage PlatformOne.
These represent the mix of internal and external costs experienced by the organization for initial planning, implementation, and ongoing maintenance associated with the solution.
Subscription Cost Of Neustar PlatformOne
The interviewed organization has an annual license with Neustar that includes five dedicated users of PlatformOne. In addition, the organization pays for professional services that cover technical issues, ongoing training and education, and periodic assistance with projects that require advanced skills. The cost over three years for the subscription and professional services totals $1.65 million. PlatformOne pricing is based on a number of factors, including usage, volume, and amount of data onboarded. The customer informed us that this price had been customized for its organization.
Although Forrester did not factor a cost into the financial model, the organization indicated that it would be unable to leverage PlatformOne in the same way without a targeting product. Because the organization already had a targeting product, it did not incur any incremental, out-of-pocket costs. Forrester risk-adjusted the subscription cost upward by 5% to account for uncertainty about the level of professional services that readers might require compared with the company that we interviewed. The risk adjusted total was $1,732,500.
Training And Learning Curve To Leverage PlatformOne
The indirect investment required for users to learn and leverage PlatformOne is nominal. The interviewed organization told Forrester that each user required about 6 hours of initial training to get started using PlatformOne. In addition, users increased their understanding of how to leverage PlatformOne over time, investing an average of one day per month for six months. The total indirect cost for training and ramp-up was $12,350.
The organization that Forrester interviewed had only five employees using PlatformOne. Readers from other companies with a larger pool of potential users could face increased complexity. As such, Forrester risk-adjusted this cost upward by 10% to account for the possible risk of increased training or ramp-up time. The risk-adjusted total cost was $13,586.
Flexibility, as defined by TEI, represents an investment in additional capacity or capability that could be turned into business benefit for some future additional investment. This provides an organization with the “right” or the ability to engage in future initiatives but not the obligation to do so. There are multiple scenarios in which a customer might choose to implement PlatformOne and later realize additional uses and business opportunities. Flexibility would also be quantified when evaluated as part of a specific project described in more detail in Appendix A.
After the first year of using PlatformOne, the interviewed organization observed a fundamental shift among its marketing executives. Before using PlatformOne, most marketing programs centered on products that the company sold. As PlatformOne provided deeper insight into the lifestyles, preferences, and priorities of anonymous users, executives were able to develop richer marketing programs, including new types of content and new marketing partnerships that focused on the diverse interests of prospects. Within two years, the organization shifted the majority of its web content away from product-centric to lifestyle-centric segments. The manager that Forrester interviewed said, “The change in our culture came because we began using PlatformOne.”
Forrester defines two types of risk associated with this analysis: “implementation risk” and “impact risk.” Implementation risk is the risk that a proposed investment in PlatformOne may deviate from the original or expected requirements, resulting in higher costs than anticipated. Impact risk refers to the risk that the business or technology needs of the organization may not be met by the investment in PlatformOne, resulting in lower overall total benefits. The greater the uncertainty, the wider the potential range of outcomes for cost and benefit estimates.
Quantitatively capturing implementation risk and impact risk by directly adjusting the financial estimates results provides more meaningful and accurate estimates and a more accurate projection of the ROI. In general, risks affect costs by raising the original estimates, and they affect benefits by reducing the original estimates. The risk-adjusted numbers should be taken as “realistic” expectations since they represent the expected values considering risk.