Written by Jerred Ziegler.
Direct marketing, or sending mailed advertisements to potential customers, is one of the most effective ways to drive business. Historically, this form of customer outreach relied entirely on past purchase behavior — if someone bought your product before, you could reach back out to them to see if they wanted to buy something else. With the rise of online shopping, however, there is a missed opportunity. It can be difficult to identify new potential customers – the people spending time on your site, but haven’t made a purchase or left contact information. Cincinnati, Ohio’s, NaviStone has developed a way to turn customers’ curiosity into sales.
NaviStone’s technology harnesses website visitor tracking to help companies find new direct mail marketing prospects. By incorporating one line of NaviStone code into each page of a business’ domain, companies can identify engaged users from the moment they land on a site. NaviStone does all of the user identification work, securely collecting postal names and addresses of each visitor to build a mailing list for targeted marketing outreach.
“Almost everyone has visited a website and seen banner ads from that company that follow them to other sites,” said Larry Kavanagh, CEO of NaviStone. “Those ads work, but that kind of outreach has been confined to online advertising. NaviStone allows companies to take it a step further and send those potential customers physical advertisements in the mail.”
NaviStone also helps companies re-engage with past customers who may already be on direct mailing lists, but are visiting the site again after being absent for a while. The technology flags these customers specifically so they can be targeted with mailers acknowledging their recent visit and enticing them to make another purchase.
“The direct mailing industry hasn’t seen any real innovation in the last 20 to 25 years,” said Kavanagh. “This idea of applying browsing data into the direct mail world is an opportunity to inject something new into a long-standing, but very effective, advertising medium.”
Kavanagh has direct marketing experience, having previously worked for a mail-order catalog business. In the late 90s, he switched his focus to e-commerce and online marketing. As e-commerce continued to grow, buyer habits began to change. Kavanagh knew physical mailing campaigns could help a digital company succeed over its competitors and created NaviStone as the solution.
NaviStone’s received an investment from CincyTech, a southwest Ohio partner of Ohio Third Frontier. The two began working together in 2013 when Kavanagh was helping train the organization’s e-commerce startups on direct mail marketing. When Kavanagh decided to launch NaviStone as a business, he spoke with CincyTech first.
“I can’t say enough good things about CincyTech. After hearing my pitch, they helped me shape my idea before presenting to other investors,” said Kavanagh. “I’ve started six other companies prior to NaviStone, but this is the first time I’ve raised outside capital. They’ve broadened my understanding of the investing process and gave me marketing help as well.”
The company’s current expansion plans are focused on marketing to attract new customers. Kavanagh recently hired two full-time staff members, one for sales and one for engineering data science to continue to advance NaviStone’s technology. He says Cincinnati has so many resources that help companies become better at what they do, setting them up for growth and success in the future.
“This city is home to many Fortune 500 companies, and there is a tremendous understanding of how to use data in marketing, and a large demand for the technology,” said Kavanagh. “We’ve been able to learn and grow by consulting with those corporations, while also getting the support and guidance we need from organizations like CincyTech.”