IBM: It’s All About the Analytics

Technology giant IBM has invested more than $4 billion dollars in building up its marketing analytics over the last couple of years, bringing all of it in-house through the acquisition of Unica in Aug. 2010 and Coremetrics in June 2010.

With these acquisitions, IBM is now able to use data to better understand consumer sentiment, for its own marketing purposes. John Squire, director of marketing and analytics at IBM, talked about the various ways that data can be used to better understand consumer sentiment for more relevant, and therefore more effective, campaigns.

What are some of the challenges in the digital marketing space that brands face with regards to analytics?
One of the bigger challenges is that consumers are more empowered. They have a wide variety of ways to reach out and engage with brands. There’s social media, mobile, online and offline. In digital the challenge is understanding all the information that is coming in regarding how consumers are experiencing a brand. Sifting through all that data is hard and understanding the patterns is hard. At IBM we have hundreds of different products and it becomes difficult to understand how each should be marketed.

What role do analytics play in IBM’a digital marketing strategy?
We’ve invested more than $4 bilion in building up our analytics over the last few years. We realized that consumers are going to use technology to engage with marketing and understand the importance of having data and analytics to help better target marketing messages.

How does IBM employ analytics to understand consumer sentiment for marketing and branding decisions?
We have been doing some neat things in terms of understanding consumers and digging through the data to figure out what types of messaging consumers are finding most interesting. The key here is deep analytics. And then after that it’s about understanding the analytics.

Can you talk about some of the digital channels that IBM relies on most and explain why these are the channels of choice?
IBM does a lot in terms of email marketing programs and display advertising. We are very focused on using analytics to pick which types of units and messages work best.

Can you give five tips for digital marketing success in 2012?
Firstly, recognize consumer empowerment. As a brand in the digital age, it is important to know what digital touch points consumers are using to talk with brands and understanding what types of experiences they expect. Second, look at the benchmarks that are available and understand how to compare yourself to your peer set. Next is learn to be more relevant. Consistency is key here. Consumers should be seeing the same message whether they are getting a mobile ad, an email, going to a brand’s website. They should get the same promotion regardless of the channel. They should all come together into one single campaign. Fourth is the move towards more real-time relevancy. Know whether your consumers are looking for a transaction or just content. Real-time data is a big component of meeting the changing needs of consumers. Last is understand the rise of mobile. In 2012, 20 percent of all online business is coming through mobile. That should mean something to brands.

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