Blog Posts

A marketer’s confession of past sins

Since IBM's CMO study came out a few months ago, we have received many requests to tell IBM’s marketing story. What are we doing differently today? How are we managing the data explosion? How are we using analytics to determine the best way to connect with empowered customers?
As a marketer, it can be difficult to find the right asset, the right tactic, the right campaign to tap a nerve with your prospects. Given the changing landscape of media, advertising, social, and multi-channel, this exercise is becoming increasingly complex… so what's a marketer to do? What's the magic equation for driving leads in an era when the funnel frankly seems to be an outdated paradigm? In my marketing role at IBM, I've realized that technologies like marketing automation, Web analytics, ad attribution, and re-targeting are some of the key drivers that can help to close the equation. The transformation from manual to automated, from guessing to analyzing, is taking root.
The first major breakthrough was implementing a marketing automation platform. I have to admit I've done my share of spray-and-pray campaigns. With the acquisitions of Cognos and Unica, we've learned a ton about the value of scientific, automated campaigns that can target customers in a more sophisticated manner. There was a learning curve, but one well worth the effort. We now have prospects queued into much more sophisticated “conversations” based on their preferences and buying behaviors, which has produced up to sixfold response improvements for our nurture campaigns.
The second major breakthrough has been the use of targeted Web analytics, which are, in my humble opinion, among the most powerful tools a marketer can utilize. Knowing who your prospects are on the Web and why and how they are using your Website is priceless in tapping into that precious organic interest. The capability now exists to retain live profiles of our prospects and customers. This profile provides us with the insight to run campaigns based on how/why/what to target based on past behavior. We can now strategically determine the “next best offer” based on this past behavior. This type of scientific targeting is priceless when it comes to driving digital lead conversions.
Another favorite tool of mine is Media Attribution. You know you are guilty. Expensive media buy. Boss is happy. Media Ad is gorgeous. But who were the interested customers? How did it perform on relative target audiences? OK, guilty. In the past, I'd sometimes get very busy and forget to check back on my media buy. Big mistake, as media optimization can double media spend efficiency. This goes hand in glove with ad re-targeting, which is a technology that can also goose conversion rates by following customers where they live on the Web and essentially reminding them of what a great offer you have for them.
I've always been inclined to the creative, the creative versus the scientific… but these days, at IBM, I realize that marketing can be more science than art, more mathematical than ethereal. I'm learning to live with it and to use technology to raise my game, and the great part about it is that my conversion rates are starting to prove it!