Performable tracks online consumer habits

By D.C. Denison
Globe Staff / February 20, 2011

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There’s little chance a company like Performable Inc. could have been launched before 2009. The problem the company is trying to solve just didn’t exist.

That problem is the growing number of ways that consumers get information, and the difficulties marketers and advertisers have reaching increasingly fragmented audiences. Performable’s solution: a software product that helps measure customer-related activity across websites, social media, smartphones, and other outlets.

“It was clear to us that it was no longer just about the website anymore,’’ said Craig Bloem, one of Performable’s four founders and a vice president of business development and marketing. “It was also about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, mobile, and e-mail.’’

Performable is another example of a Massachusetts technology sector that is increasingly focused on services, in this case, helping provide the analysis that companies need to better reach potential customers. To help manage those growing, but scattered streams of digital activity, the Cambridge company has been hard at work developing a product that can help professional marketers quantify interactions with customers and potential customers.

Performable’s software aims to track site visitors from the first time they see a website, while precisely measuring the impact of a marketing e-mail or a promotional tweet on Twitter.

Already they have landed some big customers, including EMC Corp., the Hopkinton data storage and software company, and the global marketing firm WPP PLC. These kind of companies use Performable’s software to discover their most effective online marketing efforts.

The company’s 19 employees work in an industrial, stripped-down office space in Central Square.

Their business is also representative of the thrift of today’s tech start-ups: most of the software they work with is free, open source; the servers they use are remote, or “in the cloud,’’ hosted by Amazon Web Services.

The company does have funding: $3 million raised in 2009 from local venture capital firm Charles River Ventures. But Bloem said that the ability to start a business inexpensively allows them to put time and money where they do the most good.

“We can put our resources into trying to solve customer problems,’’ he said. “Ultimately, that’s going to have a bigger impact on our business.’’

D.C. Denison can be reached at