Epic Playground — a company that builds tools to increase sales for well-priced products and services—is now introducing the latest update to its data-driven, daily direct mail service. The flagship product? Inboundgeo.
Inboundgeo was launched in Dallas in Fall 2013 by veteran entrepreneur Michael Sitarzewski, the founder and CEO of Epic Playground, with the purpose of offering brands a way to reach anonymous website visitors with direct mail messaging. Basically, inboundgeo allows retail, consumer, and luxury brands to “close the sales loop” with a targeted postcard. The service discovers the addresses of website visitors, then will automatically send direct mail the same day.
The company announced the update for inboundgeo as a proprietary web crawler, Charlotte—named after the infamous children’s book character, an actual spider similar to inboundgeo’s tech “spider”—after receiving customer feedback. Sitarzewski wrote Charlotte from scratch after input from a player in the Dallas-Fort Worth startup community.
The webpage crawler allows inboundgeo to use any webpage content to qualify anonymous visitors for direct mail. The idea for the web crawler grew from a discussion Sitarzewski had with a customer on how to focus on users viewing product pages within a specific price point. He said that at that point, inboundgeo used the page URL as the primary data point. But, an issue was with the effectiveness of inboundgeo that was limited to the client’s URL structure.
“It’s a hit or miss proposition,” Sitarzewski told Dallas Innovates. “There’s never pricing data in the URL, and even targeting keywords (is) questionable in many cases.”
Using webpage data for targeted direct mail
With Charlotte, inboundgeo can use page content to target website visitors.
“Here’s an example: ‘Send this postcard to visitors within a 15 mile radius of one of our locations who have viewed the signup page and more than four product pages with a value of more than $500,’” explained Sitarzewski. “This is exactly the opposite of traditional ‘spray and pray’ direct mail. We use geolocation, page views, page view count, page type, and product value. None of that data, other than location, is available in traditional direct mail.”
Within the geolocation data, inboundgeo offers its customers geofencing, where it can limit direct mail to a particular area. One example Sitarzewski noted was a national retailer with thousands of locations wanting to “put a laser focus” on prospects within their marketing radius. If the visitor is outside that radius—the ‘geofence’—the brand doesn’t have any interest in reaching them. But, if they are inside the geofence, the visitor is ranked based on location.
Including the web crawler in inboundgeo has become an obvious necessity. Sitarzewski even described it as “some very interesting power” that would help clients land new business and generate new revenue from existing business.
“The great thing about Charlotte is that it means we don’t have to interface with our customer’s IT department/leadership to get the data we need to do our job,” he says. “The only interaction we need is with the website owner to install the two lines of code that enable inboundgeo.”
The Epic Mini Life: Catching up with the Sitarzewskis
Sitarzewski has deep roots in Dallas, originally moving to the city in 1989. Starting in 2006, he spent seven years in Colorado, but eventually moved back to Dallas.
He also has deep roots in the local startup community, even serving as the “entrepreneur-in-residence” for the Dallas Entrepreneur Center. He said Dallas will “always be ‘home,’” even if he and his family physically live somewhere else.
And right now, that somewhere else is constantly changing—literally.
Sitarzewski bought an RV at the end of May last year, and since then has visited 33 states, traveling to some pretty diverse locations: Florida, Texas, Maine, Roswell, the Royal Gorge, Devil’s Tower, Crazy Horse, Mount Rushmore, The Badlands, Fargo, ND, Niagara Falls, and Acadia National Forest.
It’s all apart of the Epic Mini Life adventure, in which the nomadic Sitarzewski family of three lives an Epic Mini(mal) Life(style).
So far, Sitarzewski says the trek has truly been the adventure he and his family was seeking, but acknowledged that it hasn’t been 100 percent perfect—there’s been some bumps in the road with mechanical issues and a near journey-ending personal moment in Colorado.
“But today, all is well and we’re on track,” he says. “I’ve added solar panels to the RV and will be installing two Tesla type-85 batteries to power the RV for a couple of days with no sun. Being ‘off-grid’ while incredibly connected was always the goal.”
Sitarzewski added that he and his family will be in Dallas from mid-December through the holidays.
Always a mentor, he also offered parting advice for entrepreneurs pointing out inboundgeo is the result of more than five years of time and patience, doubt and success.
“There’s fine line between grinding (a phrase I really despise in the entrepreneurial community) and building value,” he says. “If you aren’t measuring your business in some way, then you may be wasting a lot of time and energy “grinding” that could be better invested in another idea. This is a bit of a different take on the fail-fast mantra. Fail, and by all means learn from it, but sometimes failing is a signal. Learn to differentiate the two.”
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