Unica IBM LogoA recent survey by Unica, an IBM subsidiary called the State of Marketing 2011 – Unica’s  Annual Survey of Marketers highlights the challenges marketers face in this rapidly changing business environment.

Snapshot of key findings:

• Marketers seem ready to bridge the gap between analysis and action
• Marketers believe Technology can ease their pain
• Demand for an Integrated Marketing Suite continues to grow
• Marketers believe in Interactive Marketing, but have more progress to make toward this vision
• Web data is highly prized, but putting it to work in campaign decision making still lag
• Online Marketing is pervasive but fragmented
• Social Media Marketing experiences growing pains
• Mobile Marketing continues to rise

Interactive Marketing

Interactive Marketing is changing the methods of communicating with customers; it is ‘the meaningful alternative to imposing messages on customers that they no longer want to hear.’ Some of the marketing challenges are:

1. Marketing channels are evolving at a breakneck pace:  I have been writing on this blog about the new techniques for customer satisfaction. The pace of innovation in this space is making it overwhelming for companies to keep up. New channels keep emerging.

2. Nearly all marketing channels, particularly emerging mobile and social channels, enable individualized communication.

3. Your customers are increasingly in control. Customer research your products and services at web and mobile locations you do not control.

Three Types of Marketing Media

According to the study, company executives needs to manage 3 types of media about themselves.

1. Owned content: (content on company owned websites)

2. Earned content: content delivered through 3rd parties without exchange of payment.

3. Paid content: such as advertising in tradition forms or web and mobile based.

Earned content has the highest credibility with customers and prospects.

What are examples of Earned Content?

a. Reviews  such as Yelp or Google Maps

b. Check Ins such as foursquare

c. On Line Complaint Sites

d. Articles and posts in Blogs and Article Directories (eg eZine Articles)

e. Tweets

f. User created Forums and Facebook Fan pages

g. Like Votes

h. Comments on Social Bookmarking Sites such as Digg, Delicious, and Stumbleupon.

i. Where your organization Ranking on Search Engines for important keywords for your business.

For more on this topic see my recent blog post called  Customer Testimonials: 11 Measures of Social Proof.

Conclusions:

Probably the most notable conclusion of this IBM marketing study is the difficulty of turning data gathered into action.

‘The proliferation of electronic channels, from the now-familiar email to the new terrains of social and mobile media, has opened up many more possibilities for meaningful communications with customers.’…The bad news: With rapid channel proliferation comes mass confusion. In an environment already suffering from information overload, each new channel, tactic, and tool generates a flood of data that demands attention.

As marketing changes, so too must the processes that go around it. Customer satisfaction strategy is one of those surrounding processes. The new elements include:

1. Gathering data from these new sources

2. Using the data

3. Providing feedback to customers on actions taken to improve customer satisfaction through new channels of communication.

What are you impressions of the information provided in the IBM Marketing study?

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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

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