SAN DIEGO – At its Amplify conference on Tuesday, IBM Corp. announced several new products to its Marketing Cloud lineup, offering marketers and merchandisers the ability to track customer journeys across digital touchpoints, a set of analytics tools to segment those shoppers, and a way to target them with automated campaigns.

The message that IBM sent to marketers during keynotes at the conference will be a familiar one to marketers by now. It’s all about the customer. IBM’s new software additions to its Commerce division are focused on helping marketers understand more about their customers and how they’ve behaving in relation to their brand and products. Personalized ads are the payoff from this effort, giving a potential customer a relevant message in the right place and at the right time.
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We’ve heard of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer marketing, but Deepak Advani, general manager of IBM Commerce told the audience at Amplify that it’s time to become a customer-to-business (C2B) operation. It’s about putting the customer first and providing a great experience.

“It’s about understanding what makes people tick and doing something to turn them into customers, to turn them into advocates,” Advani said. “How is your customer feeling today?”Advani proceeded to invite his IBM colleagues out onto the stage to demo the latest software additions to IBM Marketing Cloud, all of which are available in the market today:

Deepak Advani, general manager of IBM Commerce, says its time to become customer-to-business C2B)  company.
Deepak Advani, general manager of IBM Commerce, says its time to become customer-to-business (C2B) company.

Advani proceeded to invite his IBM colleagues out onto the stage to demo the latest software additions to IBM Marketing Cloud, all of which are available in the market today:

  • Journey Designer – A marketing automation piece with a visual way to organize a customer’s journey through various touch points with your brand. With a drag and drop interface and flow-chart style design for organizing campaigns, marketers can set up a conversion pathway and then check back to see if it’s effective. A collaboration feature allows colleagues to work on the same campaign design in real-time.
  • Journey Analytics – Designed to go hand-in-hand with Designer, Analytics will give marketers insights into how their campaigns are running from several different dimensions. Marketers can look at a view that shows what conversion pathways lead to the highest revenue, the pathways that are most-often travelled, and everything in between.
  • Customer Experience Analytics – Consider this an upgraded version of Journey Analytics. It’s a portal that ties that product together with other IBM analytics offerings such as Digital Analytics. The idea is that a marketer can move between different analytics information in the same workflow, without need to juggle multiple applications.
  • Commerce Insights – A product designed for web merchandisers, this tool uses creative workspaces to organize a product launch or a sales event on a website. Users can create rules to give certain products priority for display on a front page given a set of conditions that include geography, weather forecasts, date and time, etc. Predictive analytics are built into the tool, so a user can see if a product’s sales performance if off from its projections and take action to try and correct it.

At the core of IBM’s new marketing products is technology from acquisition Silverpop. The focus of that company’s software was on not only providing analytics about how customers are using your website, but also making that data actionable, says Laurie Hood, vice-president of product marketing at Silverpop. That principle is in play with IBM’s Journey products.

“IBM provides products that span the needs of different types of marketers,” she says. “How complex are their internal environments? What technology do they have access to? What support do they have?”

IBM is trying to make its products flexible both in terms of how they can be bought or deployed, and in terms of how they can be used in conjunction with the rest of a user’s software eco-system. Journey products can be used as a standalone, locally-installed software, or it can be accessed via a subscription to IBM’s marketing cloud. Journey Designer even has a freemium level of service, which Hood hopes will give IBM a “beachhead in this area.”

Where most other marketing software providers put a CRM at the core of their offerings, IBM doesn’t have that. Silverpop solved this problem for its software, before the IBM acquisition, by taking a CRM-agnostic approach and offering built-in connections to Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, and soon enough Sugar CRM, Hood says.

“I expect that Journey will have that integration over the longer term,” she says. But nothing’s for certain.

Rather than offer up CRM as the place that marketers live, perhaps IBM is counting on Customer Experience Analytics to serve as the central hub. In talking about the portal, IBM described it as solving the same problem that CRM does – providing one view of the customer.

“How do I put these multi-channel journeys together into one aggregate path,” said Ken Bisconti, IBM customer analytics business lead for IBM Commerce. “We’ve never done that before.”

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