IBM on July 15 announced a software-as-a-service offering that combines capabilities from its 2010 Coremetrics and Unica acquisitions to automate online marketing campaigns across multiple channels, including Web sites, mobile sites, email, and social networks. Marketing automation, cross-channel analysis, and campaign management are all hot buttons these days, so I thought I'd take a closer look.
The IBM Coremetrics Web Analytics and Digital Marketing Optimization Suite, the vendor's new SaaS service, got my attention in part because Coremetrics and Unica were starting to overlap before they were acquired by IBM.
Coremetrics delivers SaaS-based Web analytics and Unica primarily offers on-premises marketing campaign management software, but Unica has also been dipping its toe into SaaS-based Web analytics.
So what does IBM's integrated service do that Coremetrics and Unica couldn't do independently? First, companies can automate the segmentation of customer sets, using multichannel Web analytics capabilities sourced from Unica, and then inject that data directly into digital marketing execution capabilities sourced from Coremetrics, says Akin Arikan, IBM's multichannel marketing evangelist. That wasn't possible -- or at the very least, would have been very cumbersome -- when these capabilities resided in two separate products, with Unica's being on-premises and Coremetric's delivered as a service.
With Unica-derived multichannel analysis capabilities exposed through the unified SaaS offering, you can see, see, for example, which mobile devices customers are using to browse your storefront. You can then use that insight to better target related campaigns specifically to iPhone or Android users, perhaps even adding location-based targeting information.
"The multi-channel aspect is not just limited to analytic use -- what did they browse on using which type of mobile phone? -- you can immediately apply that insight to a relevant marketing campaign," Arikan says.
In other words, it's making the insight actionable. Previously, Unica provided the insight, but it couldn't put it to use as capably as can the SaaS-based IBM Coremetrics Web Analytics and Digital Marketing Optimization Suite.
In another example, a telco might notice a customer browsing accessories for a particular phone. In a siloed Web-analytics approach, the marketer would try to cross-sell the customer on accessories. With a multi-channel view, however, the telco might discover that it's at risk of losing that customer because that person is near the end of a contract.
With a more refined recommendation, "the marketer knows that retention efforts are much more important than trying to cross-sell on an accessory," Arikan says.
So in this case a contract-renewal offer is the way to go. Perhaps it could even feature a phone-and-accessory combo deal, though that would depend on the depth, breadth, and sophistication of the marketer's retention offers.
The new SaaS service is said to extend targeted campaign-delivery and real-time offer options beyond email into Web sites, mobile Web sites, social network presences, and digital display advertising. A/B testing helps search engine marketers compare the effectiveness of search terms and associated ads.
Social-media-monitoring capabilities that are part of the SaaS suite show marketers not only what consumers are saying about their brands and products but also what returns companies are getting on their Facebook, Twitter and other social networking efforts. Analyzing those who click through on a Facebook page or that interact with tweets, for instance, companies can deliver targeted promotions based what those consumers clicked on, while also gaining aggregated data on downstream actions and long-term buying habits.
Coremetrics and Unica are two out of the three big acquisitions IBM made last year to go after what it expects to be a $20 billion "smart commerce" market by 2015. In its largest deal, IBM bought Sterling Commerce last August for $1.4 billion for its order management, logistics, cross-channel selling, and fulfillment technologies, and for its well-established business-partner trading network.
Sterling started out by providing the plumbing for proprietary electronic data interchange. It now handles diverse interactions and data formats, supporting more than 1 billion financial services, retail, manufacturing, and distribution transactions per year.
The deal for Coremetrics was also finalized in August. The purchase price was not disclosed, but based on IBM's larger smart-commerce acquisitions estimate of $2.5 billion, it's likely to be about $620 million. Unica was acquired for $480 million last October.
Coremetrics and Unica both compete with Ominture, which Adobe acquired for $1.8 billion in 2009 and has since fashioned into the Adobe Online Marketing Suite, which covers many of the analysis, testing, and campaign-management capabilities discussed above. Adobe, Webtrends, and SAS (in partnership with others) are IBM's chief rivals in the digital marketing arena.