IBMs+Marketing+Strategy

The Evolution Of IBM’s Marketing Strategy

The Corporate And Business Implications of IBM’s Marketing Strategy Over The Years

For many years, IBM put the majority of its efforts into the hardware side of the computer industry. Founded in 1911, IBM initially developed electric tabulating machines. Later on, they focused on developing large mainframe computers in the 1950s and eventually PCs, servers, and related equipment by the mid-1990s as the internet began to take off. Although their product mix has evolved their competitive strategy has remained mostly consistent. Rather than being positioned as the lowest-cost provider in the market, IBM has continuously pursued a high-quality differentiation strategy by offering advanced products and excellent technical service at a premium price.

To execute this strategy, the company has committed to a steady pipeline of cutting-edge technology by allocating huge amounts of resources into R&D and product development.

WHAT IS IBM’S MARKETING STRATEGY?

IBM’s marketing strategy involves substantial investments into both traditional and online advertising, as well as promotional budgets to inform potential customers about the always evolving product lines and to reinforce brand awareness. Equally as important, is their history of spending millions on recruiting, developing, and compensating one of the largest and technically competent salesforces. 

A SHIFT IN STRATEGY: TECHNOLOGY CHANGES AND COMPETITOR ACTIONS

Beginning in the mid-1990s, IBM’s traditional lines of business started to face trouble, with the company’s worldwide PC market share declining to 8% by 1999. Similarly, while IBM’s sales of UNIX-based computer servers grew rapidly in the mid-to-late nineties, they were only able to capture a small share of the market. Even its esteemed mainframe business (which had been a high-profit/low-growth market throughout the ’80s and early ’90s) suffered losses due to falling prices and declining demand. 

Many of these performance problems can be linked to a number of factors that softened the impact of the company’s proven corporate, competitive, and marketing strategies. For instance, vast changes in technology – such as the rapid increase in PCs & Desktops, the emergence of the internet, and the adoption of computer networks – greatly contributed to the reduced demand for large mainframe computers and centralized data processing systems. 

IBM’s differentiation strategy became less effective as some of its product’s life cycles began to mature and customer’s purchasing criteria began to change. As the PC industry matured the performance differences between competing brands became less pronounced, leading customers to be more price-conscious, less technically sophisticated, and more interested in buying easy-to-use devices. As a result, IBM’s premium price position was put at a disadvantage in attracting such customers.

Additionally, IBM’s focus on B2B customers contributed to the organization’s problem of competing in newly emerging markets for server equipment and software. Because of the firm’s hesitation to pursue small start-ups during the dot-com boom, IBM left an open playing field for Sun, Cisco, and other competitors in the market.  

IMPLEMENTATION OF A NEW CORPORATE STRATEGY

In the wake of lackluster performance and a changing environment, IBM’s executive team began to adjust the corporate mission by de-emphasizing the development and manufacture of high-tech hardware while focusing on providing customers with business consulting, advanced software, and outsourcing services. In 2005, IBM sold its personal computer and x86 based server divisions to China based Lenovo Group Ltd.

To gain leverage on the firm’s existing capabilities and its long-term relationships with traditional customers, new services were concentrated on helping large enterprise organizations hook old corporate databases (often on mainframes) into new online phone systems (such as DSL) and eventually cloud-based platforms. 

This new extensive strategy involved the development of “enterprise solutions on demand,” which were packages of networked and modularized technology, software, and consulting services that were aimed at helping companies in numerous sectors rethink, redesign, and manage large portions of their operations. This included everything from accounting and customer services to human resources and procurement. For example, the Bank of Russia was able to reduce its transaction processing costs by 95% using an IBM based system and software.

CREATING NEW BUSINESS AND MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR THE INFORMATION AGE

The new emphasis on business services and software as the primary path toward future growth also forced some changes in IBM’s marketing strategy. Although the firm continues to differentiate itself from competitors by producing superior quality products at premium prices, IBM’s new service business relied on several different factors such as the knowledge, experience, and expertise of its consultants. This required IBM to reorganize and allocate internal resources toward developing a superior salesforce that could provide executive-level business consulting in addition to traditional technology consulting. 

Over the past decade, IBM has pivoted primarily toward the development and acquisition of software services (such as The Weather Company and Red Hat, for instance), artificial intelligence, and cloud-computing technology. In 2009, more than 70% of the 4,900 U.S. patents granted to IBM were for software and services and in 2011, IBM gained new attention worldwide for its AI program “Watson”, which was exhibited on Jeopardy!

In late 2020, IBM announced that it is splitting itself into two separate public companies, with the IBM brand pursuing high-margin cloud computing and artificial intelligence, built on the foundation of the 2019 Red Hat acquisition, while the new company (dubbed “NewCo”) will continue to focus on the organization’s existing global technology services.

Customers Buy Benefits not Products

Customers Buy Benefits, Not Products

CUSTOMERS BUY BENEFITS, NOT PRODUCTS

It’s true that products and services will satisfy a customer’s need when they’re acquired, used, or consumed, but we argue that customers buy benefits, not products. Indeed, when a customer purchases a product or service to meet their needs, they’re really buying the benefits that are provided rather than the actual product.

When a customer has a headache, they are in-market to purchase pain relief, not Tylenol. This fact is critical when it comes to understanding your customer’s wants and needs.

Benefits are different between customers, depending on the specific needs each customer is looking to satisfy and the situation where the product or service will be used. Being that different customers want different types of benefits, they make different purchasing choices by associating importance to different product features when choosing brands within a certain category.

Think about someone you know who wanted to buy a car and they made their decision based on a subconscious need for social acceptance or self-esteem. In this case, the benefit is the feeling they receive from the product. They might feel this way when buying a Mercedes because it comes with a prestigious brand image. They might associate importance with engineering sophistication, European styling, or state-of-the-art features. Or maybe you know a friend who has to haul around 4 kids and needs a vehicle that is practical for a parental lifestyle. They’d likely go with a Minivan or full-size SUV because of the need for passenger capacity, safety ratings, and reliability.

Services also create benefits by reducing costs, offering simplification or convenience, and creating the ability to accomplish tasks faster and more effectively. This can be seen in business-to-business (B2B) service providers like a marketing agency or a payroll-processing company, as well as with consumer services such as mobile apps for banking, shopping, or even refilling your prescriptions.

The line between products and services blur together with technology companies pushing the boundaries of their marketing mix. Although they do sell products, Amazon.com thrives because they’re an industry-leading service provider that offers customers convenience through 2-day shipping, video and audio streaming, and more via Amazon Prime. This is a perfect example of why customers buy benefits, not products.

BENEFITS AND PRICE DETERMINE VALUE

A customer’s estimation of the benefits and the capacity to satisfy specific wants or needs ultimately determines the value that is attached to a given product or service. When a customer compares different products/services and brands, they will select what they think will provide the most need-satisfying benefits. Therefore, value is the conscious and subconscious determination of the capabilities, features, and price of a product or service, and this means different things to different people.

It’s important to note, though, that a customer’s value estimation of a product or service is not always accurate. This could be as simple as getting a bad haircut. Or for instance, a warehouse manager in Texas decides to install an air-conditioning system on the premise that it’ll provide more comfort for employees during the summer, leading to happier employees (emotional benefit) and increased productivity (financial benefit). After the installation is complete, the manager may learn that the cost of operation is higher than expected, has a slow response time to changes in outdoor temperatures, and the blower isn’t strong enough to cool distant locations in the building.

This is why the perceived value and satisfaction the customer gains also depends on whether the product or service actually lives up to the expectations and delivers on the promised benefits. This is why the activities that occur after the purchase (i.e. delivery, installation, operating instruction, repair, follow-up, etc.) are critical for ensuring that customers stay satisfied. This also makes it essential for businesses to manage customer complaints effectively. On average, businesses don’t hear from 96% of customers who are dissatisfied with their product or service. Of those who do complain, 50% will do business again if their complaints were handled compared to 95% if the issue is resolved quickly. (1)

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

THE VALUE OF LONG-TERM CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS

In the past, organizations considered the individual transaction with a customer as the actualization of their marketing strategy. Over time, however, markets have become increasingly competitive, forcing businesses to shift their strategy toward building long-term relationships between the customer and business. Over the last 15 years, we’ve seen this become increasingly prevalent with the use of social media marketing as an effective tactic in any marketer’s toolbox.

Focusing on long-term customer relationships can be quantified using a customer’s lifetime value (LTV), which is the expected value of revenue that a customer will produce over time. For an auto manufacturer, the LTV of a first-time car buyer that stays satisfied and loyal to a specific brand, purchasing multiple vehicles over their lifetime could reach well over $1M.

It’s important to remember that although activities focusing on improving LTV may increase marketing expenses, the initiatives overtime pay off with improved market share and profitability. This is for one simple reason – the cost of obtaining a new customer is far bigger than the cost to keep an existing one. (2) Persuading a customer to leave a competitor can be costly, because it often requires a financial incentive (lower price or special promotional offer) or an extensive and compelling communications strategy (using advertising or sales force effort). In comparison, the increased loyalty that comes from focusing on long-term customer relationships has a lower upfront cost impact and generally yields higher profits.


(1) Patricia Sellers, “How to Handle Customers’ Gripes,” Fortune, October 24, 1988 p. 88

(2) Patricia Sellers, “Keeping the Customer You Already Have,” Fortune, Special Issue, Autumn-Winter, 1993 p. 57

How+To+Do+A+Market+Opportunity+Analysis

How To Do A Small Business Market Opportunity Analysis

How To Do A Market Opportunity Analysis For A Small Business

A critical aspect of the success or failure of any marketing strategy is whether or not the elements of the marketing program are consistent with the reality of the market environment. This generates the need for a market opportunity analysis to be completed as a means to monitor and evaluate the favorable circumstances and challenges presented by factors outside of the organization’s control. Therefore, this responsibility falls on the individual or team responsible for managing an organization’s marketing initiatives. In this article, we identify the four primary actions that are required to conduct a market opportunity analysis. 

GAIN AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE MARKET OPPORTUNITIES

Having an awareness of the nature and attractiveness of any opportunity requires a look at the market as a whole. For instance, asking questions like:

  • What environmental trends are driving or constraining market demand, as well as the fundamental characteristics of the industry as a whole?
  • What are the characteristics that are unique, only the organization in question? 
  • Does the company have the necessary resources (talent, knowledge, time, etc.) to get the job done?

COMPLETE A CUSTOMER ANALYSIS

At the end of the day, the main goal of marketing is to facilitate and support a final transaction with customers. This requires, amongst many other things, the evaluation of the motivations and behavior of current and potential customers. This means conducting market research to analyze the consumer behavior of current and potential customers to understand their wants and needs.

This leads to the importance of knowing how customers’ wants and needs impact the benefits gained from the product or service, and what is the criteria used to select a brand. Having an understanding of where the customer shops is critical, in addition to how they respond to specific prices, promotions, or service policies. This is the point in which an understanding of the mental path customers take when making a purchasing decision, including the psychological, social, and emotional factors that influence the process. 

CONDUCT MARKET RESEARCH AND FORECASTING

It falls into marketing’s wheelhouse to collect objective information about potential customers, the satisfaction of existing customers, feedback from wholesale or retail partners, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of competitors.

When conducting market research, our team likes to utilize Porter’s 5 Forces Framework to analyze the different elements that impact markets. These include:

  • The Threat Of New Competitors
  • The Bargaining Power Of Buyers
  • The Threat Of Substitute Products, Services, or Technology
  • The Bargaining Power of Suppliers
  • The Competitive Environment Among Existing Competitors

It’s important to remember that for marketers to make informed and educated decisions, research data must also be converted into estimates of sales volume or expected profit. Otherwise, it’s almost impossible to determine the expectations and return on investment that a specific marketing program can generate within particular segments and timeframes. This creates the need for marketing agencies to prove their techniques and methods for collecting and analyzing market data, as well as forecasting potential sales volumes. 

EVALUATE MARKET SEGMENTATION, TARGETING, AND POSITIONING

Not all customers are created equal – meaning each prospective customer with a similar need requires the same products or services to satisfy such needs. Oftentimes, purchasing decisions are influenced by personal preferences, personal characteristics, social circumstances, etc. Although, it’s important to remember that customers who purchase the same product may be driven by different needs or benefits, and rely on different sources of information about a product, and may even purchase a product from a different distribution channel. 

Thus, a critical step of developing a marketing program is to divide customers into market segments – which are distinct groups of people with similar needs, interests, circumstances, or characteristics that influence them to respond to marketing messaging in a similar way to a product or service. After the market segments have been defined, a company must decide how to position the brand, product, or service to the selected target segment. In some cases, this means designing a product or service, and its marketing program to emphasize the attributes and benefits that appeal to customers within the segment, while also distinguishing the company’s brand from competitors. 

Make+Your+Brand+Stand+Out+with+These+3+Key+Tips

Make Your Brand Stand Out With These 3 Key Tips

Have you noticed how some brands seem to emerge out of nowhere and succeed overnight? What is their secret? What exactly have they done to get noticed and thrive? 

Standing out in an oversaturated market can, by all means, be a struggle. But here is the secret – there is no such thing as overnight success. Successful brands have put a lot of time, energy, resources, and hard work into their growth. 

And in order to be successful, that’s what you need to do as well. 

Here are three practical tips to help you leverage your brand and stand out from the crowd.

TIP #1: BE ORIGINAL

“Be creative,” “Be Different,” “Think outside the box” – you’ve heard these phrases many times before, but what exactly do they mean for your branding efforts?

When everything you can think of has already been tried and tested, being original can be a challenge. Coming up with new ideas and new solutions for positioning, marketing, development, and other business areas is not an easy task, but don’t let that discourage you.

Here are some of the steps you can try to help make your brand stand out:

  • Acknowledge your brand’s unique points: Every brand has its own authentic self with its personality, voice and identity. Know exactly what makes your business different and showcase those unique points throughout your branding statements, visual identity and marketing collaterals.  
  • Have confidence in your brand: Instead of constantly comparing your business to your competitors’, focus instead on finding insights about your industry and target audience that will lead you to “a-ha!” moments and help you come up with never-before-seen solutions. 
  • Try something new: It could be creating a marketing plan in an innovative way, trying a new video editing technique, looking at a problem from a new perspective or finding a new angle to address a common issue. It’s important to keep your mind open, constantly be on the lookout for inspiration and test new ideas frequently. 

When you know what makes your brand different and you feel confident about it, it will be easier for you to represent your business in a truly authentic way to engage and delight your audience.

TIP #2: BE TRANSPARENT

One of the best tactics to make your brand stand out is to be transparent. It means not only showing off when you’re successful but also being open about failures and unfortunate outcomes. 

Every business makes its fair share of mistakes, bad decisions, and wrong opportunity interpretations, but not everyone feels comfortable talking about them, especially not in public.

If you can overcome that feeling and start having difficult conversations with your teammates, executives, clients, stakeholders, and the industry at large, it can help you and your company become recognized as one of the authorities and game-changers in your niche.

This is especially true for B2B companies. Transparency should become one of the main principles of your B2B marketing strategy and you should stay honest with your customers every step of their journey – from conveying clear messages through your website to resolving customer support issues in a transparent fashion.      

Transparency is also key to developing trust and fostering loyalty from your employees, clients, customers, and stakeholders alike.

TIP #3: BE RESPONSIBLE   

To elevate your brand in the era of conscious consumerism, when customers are looking to connect and engage with socially, environmentally, and culturally responsible brands, you should know what you stand for and clearly define your brand’s core values.

Your brand’s core values can include both your personal and professional values, especially if you are an entrepreneur or you own a small business. Your core values may also refer to social, ethical, and moral principles that you uphold and cherish. 

If you are not sure what your values are, you can start by asking yourself questions like: 

Why did I start this brand? Why is it important to me? Why do I care so much about bringing my brand to my audience? Why should my audience care about my brand?

You can take it a step further and write a brand manifesto to help your potential customers see whether their values align with yours.

Of course, it’s not enough just to have values written on paper. You need to get really invested in actively operating under the principles incorporated into your company’s culture. 

THE BOTTOM LINE

Following trends and trying to outperform competitors by doing the same things they do and simply hoping that your products will be recognized by millions is not enough to make your brand stand out in an overcrowded market. 

Instead, try to truly understand your industry and your audience and start doing things differently. Don’t shy away from experimenting with new approaches, being transparent, and starting meaningful conversations. 

To increase your chances of success, even more, know exactly what you stand for and act upon your core values with social, ethical, and moral responsibility in mind. 

To put it simply – trust in your brand, let its uniqueness shine through, and let the world know what you stand for.

4+Online+Advertising+Methods+That+Get+Results

4 Online Advertising Methods That Get Results

Updated: 6/3/2020

If you’re looking to expand your business and reach new customers, you can’t afford to ignore the power of online advertising. Whether you’re a local business with established customers or a pure-play online startup, online ads offer a quick, easy, and cost-effective way to publicize your services. How can you get started?

SEARCH ENGINE PAY PER CLICK (PPC)

Search engine marketing (SEM) is the most-used method for online advertising, with Google providing by far the best opportunities for exposure. In fact, studies show that 85% of consumers search for businesses online when making a purchasing decision. If your site is languishing in the organic listings, paid advertising offers a quick way of achieving visibility and drawing traffic.

Although various types of search engine advertising are available, the most usual is pay per click (PPC), where you place a bid on the keywords for which you want to appear. The more you’re willing to pay for each visitor, the higher your position, although you won’t be charged unless a searcher clicks your ad. The methodology and approach that marketers take when developing, implementing and optimizing online advertising campaigns depend on each industry, market, and product. 

It is important to sit down and determine an advertising strategy prior to implementing an online search engine marketing campaign. Having a proper plan in place is critical for successfully targeting the correct audience and communicating the value of your product to drive conversion. 

SOCIAL MEDIA ADS

Social media has been the fastest growth area of online traffic over the last few years. Trends continue to show steady growth for various social media marketing platforms. In fact, despite the recent revelations regarding the mishandling of millions of users’ data by Facebook, the social network has seen a 13% increase in user activity over 2017.

That means that social media will continue to present a massive opportunity for reaching connecting brands with their audience.  Putting the right advertising message in front of them can have excellent results.

Placing ads in social media can be as easy or complicated as you want. The major social media sites provide a vast range of tools for setting up campaigns on their platforms, and you can either pay for blanket exposure or use powerful targeting options to reach your perfect customer. 

In 2020, messenger ads via social media and SMS are becoming more prevalent. This can be an effective way to use retargeting ads to customers who have shown purchase intent but have not yet made a purchase. With high open and response rates, this digital marketing strategy is also worth taking into consideration.

LEAD-MAGNETS + POP-UPS + LANDING PAGES + EMAIL

Email marketing still remains one of the most under-rated and under-utilized form of online advertising. Yet, it is probably the most powerful form of online advertising that exists. However, email marketing requires a careful balance that hinges on important factors. Often times, users will subscribe to receive email because of a compelling enough offer, however, there needs to be a reason for a user to remain subscribed. Businesses should focus on providing highly-valuable content that users want to connect with in order to retain subscriber numbers. Keep a close eye on how your email audience reacts to the content you send and how often it is sent. 

Pop-ups, lead-magnets, and landing pages can be utilized in combination with email marketing. They are mechanisms used to collect user email addresses in exchange for a compelling offer of value. Often times this could be a free resource (ebook, webinar, etc.) or a discount or coupon.

Having an understanding of how digital marketing funnels operate is crucial to properly setting up online advertising tactics that are based on email marketing. The positive impact that a correct email marketing implementation has on an organization is the most effective method for growing loyal, long-term customers. 

ONLINE BANNERS

Lastly, banner advertising has been the mainstay of online marketing for as long as browsers have been able to show graphics. You can either pay for banners by the impression, or by the number of clicks they attract. Simple banner ads on popular sites are a great way of achieving brand exposure, although their meager click-through rates mean that they’re not so useful for driving traffic and sales. 

With that said, it is important to keep in mind that online banner ads should not be expected to drive website traffic. Banner ads are intended for brand awareness and gaining market exposure. 

Online advertising has been around for decades, and that’s because it works. However, incorrectly executing online advertising can hurt companies instead of helping. Thus, it is important to understand exactly how each type of online advertising functions at each level of the purchasing process. By using these four methods correctly, however, organizations getting started can see an immediate and positive impact.

Becoming an expert in the field takes years of study and practice. Developing an understanding of how to properly set up and execute a online marketing strategy can be overwhelming. If you need help with taking your online advertising to the next level, contact us today

7+Content+Creation+Trends+Marketers+Should+Implement+2021

7 Content Creation Trends Marketers Should Implement In 2021

Springtime is a sign of new growth and beginnings, making it the ideal time to revamp your marketing strategy. While you may have your own ideas about what will make your campaigns successful, there are some trends in content marketing that are sure to change your results during 2021. Industry experts have given their input on what to expect and what new things should be attempted, and these are tips you should incorporate for the coming year.

1. USE LIVE WEBINARS AND VIDEO

The in-person restrictions of 2020 spurred the growth of live content connections, but this a trend that is expected to continue. Video is a medium of communication that is both quick and effective, helping educate audiences about your message and brand. Consumers often prefer instant delivery of information, and going live presents an engaging way to fulfill this need.

Group of millennial friends watching social story on smart mobile phones – People addiction to new technology trend – Concept of youth, z generation, social and friendship – Main focus on center guys

2. DEVELOP A CONTENT COMMUNITY

Communication platforms, like Slack, have increased in popularity across different industries, placing a spotlight on the need for using content marketing to develop an online community. These allow for a more open and diverse sharing of content, creating an environment that encourages open communication with other marketers and clients. By having all communications happen on one platform, content marketers can invest in fewer resources and can perform the day-to-day relations more efficiently.

3. OVERHAUL THE CONTENT EXPERIENCE

One of the content marketing trends that is sure to continue is the move to improve the content experience. There will be increased attention to the way users interact with content instead of just focusing on keywords and rankings. Content will be directed toward a total package presentation. Every aspect of the user experience will be considered in website content, including its first impression, ease of use, and ability to close a purchase. Many web pages will expand beyond text and work with webinars, podcasts, and several call-to-action segments.

4. INCLUDE AI-POWERED CONTENT

For many, the idea of using artificial intelligence sounds scary and intimidating. However, the use of AI has been in the works for years and will revolutionize your content marketing effort. Through specialized tools, AI will be able to deliver full blogs, captions and summaries that are sourced in data and grounded in consumer demand. There isn’t a fear of removing human involvement in the content process, as this tool still needs a lot of development and will need editing.

5. REALIGN THE FOCUS OF CONTENT

Depending on the extent of the marketing budget or the resources available, generalized content might be all that you plan to offer the public. However, presenting a stronger focus on actual services and products within pieces of content will drive up interest and potential purchases. By targeting the content to these more specific areas, businesses can stay lean and conserve resources. Work on content that attracts your key buyers, focusing on several fundamental topics for your services or industry. Product launches, updates or user integrations are key ways to enhance the return on investment for content efforts.

6. DON’T IGNORE SEO

A key aspect of content creation is understanding and implementing an effective SEO strategy. There is a lot of movement in the SEO realm, and it can be difficult to keep up with major updates that change how your content is ranked. And it takes some ingenuity to compete with large marketing companies that have may have the budget and expertise to steal your thunder. You may have to play a long game with SEO, consistently optimizing your content to make it to the top of the results page, but the results are worth it if this new visibility you can increase traffic and make more sales.

Smiling business man in eyeglasses sitting by the table in cafe with laptop computer while using smartphone and writing something

7. REPURPOSE CONTENT

In order to conserve resources but still make waves in the area of content, repurpose your engaging, high-quality content rather than starting over. You don’t have to write a blog about a topic when a webinar already exists. Make mention of the existing content in new channels and on social media marketing by using content highlights, quotes, or other snippets of long-form content. Don’t get bogged down with new content each time a topic or an idea arises. Make it easier for consumers to follow your content trail across your platforms by keeping it consistent.

What+Marketers+Need+to+Know+About+the+iOS+14.5+Update+and+Facebook+Conversions+API

What Businesses Need To Know About The IOS 14.5 Update And Facebook Conversions API

Every so often, Apple releases a new iOS update and developers, marketers, and business owners have to figure out how it will fit into their digital strategies. It is no secret that Apple and Facebook have been feuding over privacy issues and the iOS 14.5 update is the latest step in the game. For businesses who use the Facebook Pixel to manage event tracking, this latest change could present a challenge.

HOW FACEBOOK TRACKING HAS TRADITIONALLY WORKED

Marketers and developers have been tracking user actions for a long time. This has helped to serve a more personalized (and more persuasive) selection of ads to users. Many marketers take advantage of the Facebook targeting tools to serve customers with more relevant ads.

Conventionally, Facebook and other online advertising platforms have gathered data about users’ behaviors using the Facebook Pixel (for web tracking) and Facebook SDK (for mobile tracking). These two client-side systems send information about user actions back to Facebook directly from the user’s browser. Such actions, or “events,” can include viewing certain content, adding products to shopping carts, making purchases, and a variety of other commercial activities.

That data is then used by Facebook and marketers on the platform to better target consumers with relevant ads. Often, it is used to retarget ads for products that users have previously viewed. If you’ve ever looked at a product page then suddenly received lots of ads about that product, you are familiar with this system.

Similarly, the data can be used to measure the efficacy of ads. By associating later actions with ad views, marketers can determine if they have effectively caused the desired behavior. Without this individual tracking data, marketers would largely be in the dark about whether their campaigns are effective except at the highest level and simplest metrics.

Modern advertising and a lot of commerce are fueled by the data collected by Facebook. Nearly all marketers using the Facebook Ads Manager are benefitting from these data collection methods. So, any changes to how that data can be collected can have big impacts.

HOW THE APPLE IOS 14.5 UPDATE IMPACTS TRACKING

iOS 14 has brought about a variety of new features and changes. However, the most impactful for marketers are the changes to Facebook’s tracking. Most specifically, Apple iOS 14.5 tracking now requires users to approve app access to their advertising IDs, the feature used to power the Facebook SDK on iOS devices.

The previous major version of iOS, version 13, brought similar changes to location tracking. These prompts reduced opt-in rates for location tracking by half on average. The Apple iOS 14.5 tracking changes are likely to bring about a similar drop in advertising ID access.

Using the conventional system for tracking mobile user activity, Facebook marketers would be blind to the efficacy of their campaigns on about half of their iPhone and iPad audience. That is a really serious drop in data access.

It is also important to note that mobile traffic accounts for a large portion of all online activity today. Many consumers are using their mobile devices as their primary screens. So, it is important for marketers to have a way to effectively access usage data for iPhones and iPads.

HOW THE FACEBOOK CONVERSIONS API CAN HELP

The good news is that Facebook already has a solution, although it may require some changes to your website and app. The Facebook Conversions API is an updated version of a tool that has been around for a while, the Facebook Server-Side API.

This API changes the model for how users are tracked for Facebook Ads. Rather than collecting data via a client-side tracker (i.e. on the browser), the API does everything on your server. Therefore, you can track various user events without having to rely on the iOS advertising ID. So, even if users deny access at the app level, you can still gather useful analytics.

There are limitations to what can be tracked client-side. However, the Facebook Conversion API is more advanced than many similar systems and is an increasing point of focus for the social media giant. These are some of the events that you can track and associate with ad views:

  • Affiliate payments
  • Email subscriptions
  • Locations
  • Form submissions
  • Leads
  • Phone calls
  • Purchases
  • Subscription changes

The API does more than just overcome Apple iOS 14.5 tracking limitations. It can also help with tracking failures due to bad connections, long page load times and ad-blocking software.

Furthermore, the Facebook Conversions API approach can be used outside of your website and app. It can be integrated with other business systems so that you can track events such as in-person purchases, and inbound phone calls.

WHAT MARKETERS NEED TO CONSIDER MOVING FORWARD

Currently, marketers can still get useful information from the Facebook Pixel in browsers and the Facebook SDK on mobile devices. However, it is likely that opt-in rates on iOS devices will fall significantly with this update. Therefore, it is almost essential to implement the Facebook Conversions API alongside the client-side tracking methods to ensure a fairly comprehensive data set. It is important to ensure that you are not double-tracking activities; however, Facebook designed the systems to work together.

Moving forward, it is almost certain that Apple will continue to crack down on how its users can be tracked. For marketers, it is important to stay abreast of all the latest changes and to adjust strategies accordingly.

If you want to ensure that your brand is always positioned for digital marketing success, start working with the Proecho Solutions team. We provide full-service digital marketing services that will help supercharge your business’s growth. Contact us today to learn more.

Concept+Of+Technology+Network+Connected+Via+AI+Software+Applications

The Transformative Effects Of AI On Digital Marketing

An Overview of A.I. Marketing

Thanks to decades of dystopian fiction and sci-fi movies, most people have a distorted image of artificial intelligence. The fact is, AI is quickly transforming the corporate world as it uses complex algorithms and predictive analytics to convert information about consumer behavior into valuable business intelligence. Marketing with AI is yielding tremendous benefits to companies both large and small around the globe, as powerful software programs streamline marketing functions, optimize campaigns, and improve personalized customer experiences.

The use of artificial intelligence in marketing leverages technology to improve customer experiences from the first point of contact through the sale and beyond. The return on investment of marketing campaigns also benefits from AI technology as machine learning, analytics for big data, and additional processes help to optimize business strategies geared toward target consumers. Tedious, repetitive processes that once sucked up huge numbers of human capital hours are now performed by machines; generation of content, PPC ads, and web design are all possible functions of AI software. 

In digital marketing, AI can optimize marketing campaigns, streamlining them in the process and taking away the risk of human error. While human ingenuity is still a requirement for the effective completion of most tasks, AI digital marketing programs can be used to generate reports strictly based on data.

To date, machines cannot copy the human attributes of empathy, compassion, or storytelling. However, AI is also not subject to the limitations of human beings. If Moore’s Law of exponential computer growth continues to hold true, AI’s future capabilities will be truly astounding.

CONTENT CURATION

In the marketing world, content creation is the act of developing topics that appeal to target consumers, creating written or visual content around those ideas, and making that information available to the audience through blogs, videos, infographics or other formats. This has become a global industry on its own; it is both extremely effective and extremely dependent on human capital. However, AI has the capability to curate and generate content. In addition, it can determine the right consumers for the content and the best channels for its delivery. While the technology is still in the early stages, AI could eventually be used to generate topics or even write first drafts based on given data or parameters. 

AI-ENHANCED ADVERTISING

The digital advertising strategies of today rely on AI even at the most basic levels. Electronic billboards can be run on AI-based systems. These systems, known as “programmatic advertising,” utilize complex algorithms and big data to determine the best ads for a target market.

While ad development has historically been a creative endeavor accomplished by teams of professionals, businesses of today need to reach beyond the creative message to find the right message, timing, audience, and delivery method for the best results. Consumers have learned to blow through the overwhelming number of ads assaulting them every day with little to no attention paid to the actual messages, causing advertisers to lose money. AI allows businesses to optimize their advertising budget by placing personalized ads in front of relevant audiences. As this technology continues to evolve, it will become even more critical to business success.

AUTOMATED CUSTOMER SERVICE

The AI technology often viewed as the biggest game-changer is chatbots. Consumers are becoming more accustomed to chatbots through interactions with automated assistants such as Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. This technology is being utilized on numerous corporate websites to address frequently asked customer questions.

The best part of chatbot technology is the effect it can have on the consumer experience. By automating the more basic functions of customer service, chatbots provide a cost-effective means of streamlining operations and saving the human agents for more complex customer issues requiring personal attention. Some businesses don’t have the human resources to address customer questions in a timely manner; chatbots allow for customer assistance regardless of the hour of the day. AI also doesn’t have bad days; chatbots are always polite and engaging, eliminating customer complaints related to poor human interactions.

Businesses must realize that AI technology has limitations when it comes to the use of chatbots; there should always be a level of escalation that results in human interaction. However, in the future, smart chatbots may take a more active role in communication with humans using originally generated responses in real-time, useful in sales prospecting, lead generating, and customer service.

BEHAVIORAL ANALYTICS

As technology allows the collection of more complex data, companies are responding by hiring data scientists and programmers to work on their marketing campaigns. The huge number of data sets regarding consumer behavior and market trends can be overwhelming, but AI makes it accessible using machine learning and big data analysis. This technology allows for prediction of future customer behavior, which can be used to personalize advertisements, set prices, and launch campaigns based on the knowledge of what individual customers have historically done and are likely to do. 

AI is not the evil force often depicted in movies. As the technology continues to evolve, businesses are finding more ways to harness its benefits to improve the effectiveness of digital marketing. For more information, contact Proecho Solutions. 

6 Ways AI Is Transforming The Marketing Industry

Artificial intelligence is rapidly transforming the marketing industry. This technology can optimize a variety of marketing tasks to improve customer experiences. If you are a part of the enterprise marketing field, you probably already use some type of AI solution, but many marketing professionals still don’t have a good grasp of the benefits. Check out six advantages of using AI for digital marketing.

1. PERSONALIZATION

Today’s consumers have become used to personalized marketing messages populating their social media and electronic mailboxes, in place of the more traditional direct mail and media advertising that once dominated the field. A 2017 report by Accenture found that 43% of consumers are more likely to purchase from companies with personalized customer experiences. 

AI personalizes marketing efforts as it tracks consumer behavior in areas such as browsing and purchase history, using this information to predict future brand interactions and allowing tailored recommendations about products and services to populate ads. Amazon has used an AI framework called DSSTNE to revolutionize the online consumer experience. AI technology powers algorithms that optimize advertising based on conversions and interactions, allowing effective marketing decisions to be made based on realtime information about consumer history, trends, preferences, and predicted behavior. 

AI technology can also utilize natural language processing to determine mood and intention from emails and phone calls, automate real-time recommendations to improve shopping experiences, scan browsing history to present different options to consumers, and provide a retail store clerk with real-time information on a tablet or phone to help an in-store customer.

2. SEARCH ENGINES

Search algorithms are constantly improving. Integrating AI into search engine technology allows past shopping behavior to be considered in browsing, and misspellings in search terms to be identified with alternatives suggested. This software is becoming very sophisticated in determining searcher intent. AI language technology can interpret complex speech patterns and recognize spoken queries, helping voice search technology to continue to increase in both popularity and efficiency.

3. DYNAMIC PRICING

Pricing is a well-known marketing strategy, and discounts have traditionally been used to accelerate sales. However, traditional price-setting procedures cannot match the complex algorithms employed by AI to factor in demand, availability, consumer profiles, and additional factors such as season and popular trends to set prices. Dynamic pricing can be sensitive to minute-by-minute purchasing trends, with prices adjusted accordingly. Many people have experienced this technology at work when searching for a flight and finding the price has increased by hundreds of dollars in a matter of days.

4. ENHANCED USER EXPERIENCE

Online customer experiences are constantly being improved with user-friendly websites and apps. When customers have a better experience with front-facing technology, they are more likely to pursue further interaction with the brand. AI systems can adapt user experiences based on interactions in real time, creating a more user-friendly and personalized experience than traditional testing and optimization cycles could manage.

AI language-processing algorithms have become extremely advanced, allowing machines to replace humans in customer service and sales roles. This is more cost-effective and frequently more efficient. Customer service is further improved because machines are always polite and refrain from engaging in negative conversations with the consumer.

5. WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW

Content marketing offers a great return on investment but requires significant human capital. The use of machine-generated content is not new, but only recently has the quality of the automatically generated articles reached a passable level. AI can be used to auto-generate blog posts and clickbait headlines based on formulas. Several global brands, including Forbes, now publish content that is partially AI-generated. AI can also use algorithms to select appropriate content for a specific audience, allowing for automation of the content curation process.

Enterprise content marketers can utilize AI to simplify the task of selecting the appropriate marketing channel from the large and still-growing list of current options. AI-powered software can target the channels with the highest chance of success for each particular marketing campaign, targeting specific leads based on brand interaction. It can also calculate the best times for launching promotions on each marketing channel.

The “how” of marketing is also being changed by automation, as AI-powered email can copy and paste content into big batches of emails, changing the name and content as needed. AI can efficiently perform repetitive tasks, freeing up marketing staff for strategic planning and other “human” tasks.

6. DATA ANALYSIS

Most businesses collect a large amount of information regarding their customers and industry but do not use the data effectively. AI can effectively process large data sets and identify trends and patterns. This allows for the creation of statistical models to predict future consumer behavior and create business intelligence models to capitalize on that information. In an increasingly competitive business environment, AI can provide critical insights for companies to constantly improve and excel.

While the technical aspects of advanced artificial intelligence may seem overwhelming, marketing software utilizing AI technology is surprisingly user-friendly. If your business has not already explored the benefits of AI-powered marketing, contact Proecho Solutions for assistance!

HOW+TO+BUILD+AN+EFFECTIVE+MARKETING+PROGRAM+TO+GROW+YOUR+BUSINESS

How To Build An Effective Marketing Program To Grow Your Business

What does an effective marketing program look like?

Building long-term customer relationships does not happen overnight. Really, it comes down to the result of collaboration and many different actions and decisions that need to be planned and implemented by, well, somebody. In this article, we break down our internal process that we go through for developing marketing strategies for each of our clients.

THE STRATEGIC MARKETING PROCESS

In some cases, organizations have the necessary resources – the talent, technology, time, and budget – to develop and execute an entire marketing strategy on their own. Often times though, it’s more common to find most marketing programs involve internal components interfaced with cooperative efforts from specialized vendors: suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, and even local advertising agencies. It’s also possible that customers are involved in determining or influencing certain parts of a marketing program, such as new product development and testing. 

Regardless of the team or individuals who lead the project, we define the entire progression of analysis, decisions, and activities involved in planning, carrying out, and evaluating a strategic marketing project as the marketing management process.

The following is a diagram of the strategic marketing management process we follow:

By following this technique to develop all of our strategic marketing campaigns for our clients, we’ve been able to lead a track record of successful performance. In this article, we take a detailed look at our marketing management process used to plan and execute strategic marketing programs.

A DATA-DRIVEN DECISION MAKING FOCUS 

The framework of our marketing management process relies on a structured approach involving a data-driven decision-making focus. Developing and implementing an effective marketing program requires various interrelated details for what to do, when to do it, and how. These decisions are the major focus of developing creative and compelling marketing campaigns and can be applied to single products, across an entire product line, as well as to services. 

I. MARKETING STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT

We begin by first identifying the business objectives and strategies that need to be taken into account by conducting a discovery call with prospective customers. The criteria determined at this step of the project is often the most important, as it serves as the organizational framework for marketing campaigns that are developed. 

II. OPPORTUNITY ANALYSIS

The objective of conducting an opportunity analysis focuses on identifying the existing details about the prospective business, industry, and trends- this is defined as the 4 Cs of marketing: Company, Customers, Competitors and Context.

At this step, we focus on conducting a substantial amount of analysis of prospective client’s customers, competitors, and the company itself before making suggestions concerning specific components of a marketing program. This reflects our perspective that successful marketing decisions depend on objectives, supported by a detailed and evidence-based understanding of the market and context of the industry environment.

It is important to acknowledge that an opportunity analysis is based on the time in which the evaluation occurred. It is also necessary to conduct ongoing analysis of market opportunities, simply because things change and the unexpected has a habit of occurring. If anything, the COVID-19 crisis has taught us a hard lesson that this is the case. Therefore, room for adjustments must always be considered to allow for new activities as a response to changes in consumer demand, the actions of a competitor, or shifting economic conditions. However, a comprehensive and ongoing analysis of the market environment allows businesses to make changes in an informed and logical way rather than relying on guess-work. 

The analysis that is necessary to formulate the structure for a good strategic marketing plan focused on four elements, or the 4Cs, that encompass the overall market environment that impacts the success of a strategy:

  1. The Company’s internal goals, resources, capabilities, constraints, culture, internal processes, and strategies.
  2. The Context of the business environment like social, economic, and technology trends.
  3. The Customer’s wants, needs, and characteristics that influence purchasing decisions.
  4. The Competitor’s relative strengths and weaknesses within the business environment.

This evaluation also includes an examination of an organization’s:

  • corporate strategy – the reflection of the mission and provides direction for decisions about what businesses it should pursue, how to allocate resources, and its growth goals.
  • competitive strategy – how a business plans to compete in the market

It’s important to remember that one important role of a marketing agency is to monitor and analyze the customer’s wants and needs, as well as the emerging opportunities and threats posed by competitors and trends in the market. Thus, many of the interconnected decisions about market segmentation, advertising channels, pricing, partnerships with suppliers, retailers, and other vendors reflect the corporate and competitive strategies and inform the development of an effective marketing strategy. By conducting thorough opportunity analysis, marketers are able to ensure that marketing strategies are realistic given a company’s resources and capabilities, while also being consistent with the organization’s corporate and competitive strategies. 

III. DEVELOPING STRATEGIC MARKETING PROGRAMS

While designing a new marketing program, there are two different operational paths that an organization can take:

PATH A: NEW PRODUCT-ENTRY

When formulating a strategic marketing program for a new product entering a market, there are three interrelated sets of criteria to consider:

  1. There must be specific objectives to be accomplished within the target market, such as sales volume, market share, return-on-investment, or profitability goals. The objectives must also be consistent with corporate and competitive strategies, while also being specific enough to allow management to monitor and evaluate performance over time.
  2. The overall strategy must appeal to the consumer while also being consistent with the company’s capabilities and resources.
  3. The tactical use of communications and distribution channels must be aligned and integrated with all other elements of the marketing program.

PATH B: SITUATIONAL POSITIONING

A marketing program for a product or service should not only reflect the demand and competitive environment within the target market but also take into consideration the specific objectives of the organization. It’s important to remember that the product life cycle, market demand, and competitive conditions may change over time. Thus, marketing strategies must be developed to be appropriate and successful for different market conditions at different stages of the life cycle. 

IV. ESTABLISHING A MARKETING PROGRAM

The initial stage of developing a strategic marketing plan always begins with determining the objectives and overall goals of the campaign, ideally broken down for each target market segment. The objectives should be partially determined by corporate and business-level goals, strategies, and available resources. For example, Samsung’s marketing strategy involves its product line, pricing, supply chain policies, advertising, and promotion efforts, but their marketing decisions are influenced by the company’s competitive strategy of producing innovative lifestyle products sold at a premium price. 

COMPONENTS OF A MARKETING STRATEGY

All of the tactical decisions that are made while designing a marketing strategy fall under four main categories that a business has the ability to control over time. Traditionally, these categories are defined as the 4 Ps:

  • Product – product lines, quality, features, style, options, packaging, guarantees, warranties, and customer services
  • Price – list price, discounts, allowances, credit terms, payment periods, and rental/leasing options
  • Promotion – advertising, salesforce, point-of-purchase materials, and publicity
  • Place – product or service development, distribution channels, supply chain, locations, availability, and inventory levels

Being that each element relies on each other, the decisions within this framework must be consistent and integrated with each other. When decisions are made surrounding these four components come together, it’s generally referred to as the marketing mix. 

V. IMPLEMENTATION AND CONTROL OF THE MARKETING STRATEGY

One critical element that determines the success of a marketing strategy is the organization’s ability to effectively execute the plan. This ultimately depends on whether or not the strategy is aligned with the company’s resources, organizational structure, operational capabilities, and the skills and expertise of its employees. Thus the importance of developing a plan that is tailored to the existing resources, competencies, and procedures of an organization, or that can aid in creating new structures and systems fit for the chosen strategy. 

In addition, an ongoing analysis should be made to determine if the marketing strategy is meeting the objectives and if not, determining if the plan should be adjusted. Implementing a measurement and control process allows for quantitative and qualitative feedback that can be used for ongoing opportunity analysis.

How then do we measure the success of a marketing strategy? Depending on the goals and objectives, performance could be measured by impressions, reach, engagement, clicks, new followers, leads, or conversions. Share