Capturing Customers' Comings and Goings

Portrait Software obtains outbound campaign management capabilities through it acquisition of Million Handshakes.

Portrait Software, which makes inbound customer interaction optimization software, is buying Million Handshakes, which provides outbound campaign management and dialog marketing technology.

The deal, announced March 20, allows Portrait Software to offer a complete customer interaction management platform.

"We allow consistent multichannel interactions with customers, in terms of rules and processes in place to serve and sell to the customer," said Mark Smith, executive vice president and general manager of Portrait Software. "We drive intelligence into those interactions."

Smith said that with the integration of Million Handshakes' outbound interaction management functionality, Portrait will allow its clients to control a two-way dialogue with customers.

"You can have two sides of a conversation with a customer synchronized and driven by intelligence," he said.

Smith said Portrait will now offer a multimode marketing automation platform that can help users control and manage customer communication channels including e-mail, direct mail, and phone. The platform will feature a visual interface to administrative capabilities such as reporting and rule management, he said.

"This gives us a complete set of marketing technologies for outbound and inbound communications," he said. "It features all analytic capabilities, such as customer profiling. You can feed predictions of customer behavior based on their profiles into the system and set the rules in line with the predicted customer interests and needs."

Smith said these rules can govern interactions such as how to follow up on an initial e-mail sent to a customer, depending on whether and how they respond. "It saves time and money and makes companies more efficient in terms of their communication," he said.

According to Suresh Vittal, an analyst with Forrester Research, Portrait's acquisition of Million Handshakes will help close the gap on developing integrated marketing communications.

"Portrait is able to provide inbound marketing at the customer's touch-point," Vittal said. "Now with the acquisition of Million Handshakes, Portrait will be able to equally affect outbound marketing decisions as well."

In addition, he said the integration of Million Handshakes technology into the Portrait platform can improve the efficiency of the marketing process by integrating offers across channels and leveraging response data from both tools to improve overall decision making.

Portrait Software and Million Handshakes both base their technology on Microsoft's .Net Framework, and the new multimode marketing automation platform will be entirely .Net-based. Portrait also plans to incorporate SAAS (software-as-a-service) capabilities from Million Handshakes' outbound campaign management system into the integrated platform.

Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out's Retail Site.