In a buyer-drive marketplace, even the biggest brands are increasingly turning to technology to understand the critical importance of forecasting customer needs and demands more effectively.
According to the IBM 2010 Global CEO Study, 95% of top performing organizations identified getting closer to customers as their most important strategic initiative over the next five years. This is especially true for IBM, as the company’s approach to value creation required an extraordinarily deep knowledge of customer business processes that can only built upon intimate, trusted relationships.
With revenues of nearly $100 billion and more than 400,000 employees, IBM recently reevaluated the way the company manages responses and leads — accelerating its sales processes, improving visibility and performance evaluation and more effectively aligning marketing and sales.
Following its acquisition of Unica last year, the company has tightly integrated the company’s marketing automation solutions with other IBM technologies to automate demand generation with campaign and lead management. The company shared the results from its own use of Unica solutions during the recent Forrester Marketing Forum in San Francisco.
An IBM Cognos real-time operational reporting portal embedded in Unica’s interface provides current information on click through rates, campaign responses and responses sent to Unica Leads.
“With Unica, the customer can guide where our conversation should go,” said Zarina Lam Stanford, Director, Software Group Demand Programs, North America, IBM. “It will translate into more quality leads, and better relationship building with buyers and everyone who dialogues with us. And that is central to IBM’s value proposition: to build valuable, trusted relationships.”
According to Stanford, Unica has helped transform IBM’s “market-driven” approach to an “individual approach” to personalize messages for responders, which has ultimately translated into better leads and better relationship building with buyers and prospects.
In many areas related to marketing planning, development and execution, Stanford said what used to take days and weeks can now be done in minutes. For example, IBM has streamlined its content syndication process, which previously required 30 days to create response handling and landing page URLs. Using a web-based registration page creation tool developed by IBM, demand programs professionals can register the tactic into Unica in two hours or less. Through the automated system, loading of responses now takes one day instead of a week and follow-up time for transactional emails has been cut from a week to an hour.
“By integrating Unica with our IBM contact marketing database, we get rapid feedback and tremendous insight into how various segments of our target audience are reacting to our communications,” said Liz Novakowski, Database Marketing Manager, North America, IBM. “This is enabling us to fine-tune our overall contact strategy, refine who we converse with further and improve how we interact with them.”
While some IBM marketers had previously experimenting with manual lead nurturing, the company had no systematic or automated way to nurture potential customers. As the new Unica-based system rolled out, IBM marketers could setup their own marketing campaigns and nurture streams to help ensure that responders have the right conversation with the right resources at IBM.
Nurtured touches are helping IBM replace and outperform standard touches. “By using more relevant content, we’re averaging twice the open rate, six times the click through rate and three time to click-to-open rate,” Stanford said. “Even our lowest nurture email click-through rates are twice the best we’d achieved through standard email.”