Some spinoffs come off as a desperate ploy to hold onto audiences. Did we really need The Golden Palace after The Golden Girls finished?

Others hold their own next to the original. The Mary Tyler Moore Show came from Lou Grant. The Daily Show begat both The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report.

BlueConic falls into the latter category. Four years ago, web CMS provider GX Software introduced it as a complimentary web engagement solution. In the years that followed, BlueConic broke off as an independent entity, received $3 million in Series A funding from Boston-based Sigma Prime Ventures, moved its headquarters and two of its chief executives to Boston.

So why don't we hear more about it?

I'll save you a trip before you bust out your magnifying glass to see where BlueConic falls in Scott Brinker's Marketing Technology Landscape -- it's not there. My original guess why not was that the software didn't have a clear segment to fit into on the graph. But Tony White, founder and CEO of Ars Logica, offered another theory which we will get to in a little bit.  

Hans Willems, BlueConic's CMO calls the software a "system of engagement." Sure, you can use it for digital marketing, but Willems believes that limits the scope of the software's capabilities. 

Everything is about the customer experience. We believe if you want to do it well, you need an understanding of who you're talking to. That's the most important idea behind BlueConic. Then you use that information and insights to communicate to websites, to apps wherever you're talking with customers."

How Does BlueConic Do This?

2014-28-July-Hans-Willems.jpgDuring a live demo and an interview with Willems, it looked almost ... should I say it ... easy? This appears to be one of those solutions that lives up to the claim that IT involvement is kept at a bare minimum. The first step requires inserting a JavaScript tag on your website. That's all that is required of IT to get started. It's now in marketing's hands. 

Marketing then faces the choice of what they want to know and what touchpoints they want to target. Marketers can define form fields from a visual picker -- no HTML required. 

Once the JavaScript is in, the software starts collecting data on activity, identity and sentiment. And then some more. And more. It never stops collecting data. With this data, it builds a progressive profile of an individual, whether anonymous or known. Not a randomized person, but a very specific "you just came to my site because of this specific ad you saw on Facebook and two days later when you were on your phone you clicked on an email that we sent and your phone is an iPhone 5s and you really care about what other people say about my product and you're not very budget conscious ...." You get the idea.

And with the continuous listening, the software changes anonymous visitors to known at the moment the person starts entering identifiable information. This was startling in the demo. Someone doesn't have to submit the form, only has to start typing to make the software update. Real time seems to be the name of the game here -- while marketers can set up clearly defined segments according to whatever criteria they choose, the profiles inside those segments will not remain static. Segmentation is dynamic, which means individuals move in and out of defined segments as new data dictates.  

BlueConic uses the marketer's defined segments to start dialogues with visitors, delivering relevant content or an appropriate banner based on the user's segment and stage in the customer journey, while that customer is still on the site. When asked the time lapse between the identification stage when a customer arrives on the site and the delivery of the appropriate message, Willems responded, ".024 seconds."

The platform launched an automatic testing and optimization tool last week for customer messaging which automatically runs and adjusts A/B tests on websites, mobile channels, email and within apps. The company released a customer journey simulator in May which allows marketers to experience customer journey as website visitors do and then reconfigure the same journey, from a different device. 

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BlueConic Customer Journey Simulator

BlueConic is SaaS and as such sits as a layer between your website and your legacy systems -- no rip and replace needed. It's supported by a REST API which allows integration with your legacy software and includes some out of the box integration including Google Analytics, Salesforce, Sitecore, SDL and (of course) GX Software. BlueConic is sold on a subscription base starting at $2000 a month -- no time commitments involved. 

When asked about the limitations of BlueConic to deliver this kind of personalized real time messaging to scale, Willems mentioned a current client which manages a database of 90 million active customers. He says BlueConic is tested to handle up to 1 billion active customer profiles.

Where Does BlueConic Fit?

"Nobody is literally doing the same thing, in that no one is taking the same approach." This was Digital Clarity Group Partner and Principal Analyst Tim Walters' response when asked who he would identify as BlueConic's competition, "This is such a new space." He sees parallels in capabilities that both IBM and Adobe offer, but the scale of those solutions and the need for deeper integration could cut down on agility and the promise of real time. Sitecore's Experience Database also comes up as offering a "similar value proposition."

Walters agreed when asked if BlueConic's subscription, SaaS model might offer marketers more wiggle room to experiment. "A cloud based, metered price solution might be more attractive for those wanting to experiment and interested in trying another path."

White made a similar statement to Walters when asked about competitors, "There are no exact competitors. All of the data collection and all of the analytics are represented in the market, but you would need other pieces to make up what BlueConic offers." 

White's covered GX Software since 2007 and had conversations with its founders about the decision to split the two companies. He suggested that with the move to North America and the funding round, BlueConic has an opportunity to be directly competitive with the Adobes of the marketing world. He then offered the reason I hinted at above why we don't hear so much about BlueConic,

I don't endorse products, but BlueConic is a very, very interesting digital marketing platform for shaping your customer journeys and I think it gets overlooked due to their marketing."

During my first conversation with Willems, he said, "We're using the money from the investment to ramp up marketing and sales activities in the US." BlueConic got my attention, but it remains to be seen if it gets the attention of the CMOs and CIOs of North America.