IBM Working With Enterprises to Hone Marketing Strategies

At its IBM Amplify 2015 conference, Big Blue announced deals with enterprise customers that are taking advantage of the company's marketing expertise.

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SAN DIEGO—IBM announced that it is working with several enterprises to improve their marketing strategies via IBM Commerce.

At the IBM Amplify 2015 conference here, IBM announced its collaboration with Georgia Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the Western Hemisphere, to help reinvent the way it designs and delivers seamless visitor experiences across all touch points.

Venues such as zoos and aquariums attract more than 180 million annual visitors, which are more visitors than the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB's annual attendance combined, with approximately 3.6 million households making repeat visits. To better capitalize on this market opportunity, Georgia Aquarium, which houses an expansive array of aquatic animals, needed to rethink the way it engages with customers to create return visitors—increasing both customer loyalty and marketing ROI.

"For marketers to succeed in today's buyer-driven world, they must think on the customer's terms," said Deepak Advani, general manager of IBM Commerce, in a statement. "In order to be successful today, marketers must meet customers when, where and how they want to be communicated with. Georgia Aquarium's success, basing programs off of visitor insights, highlights the importance of this new way of marketing."

To make the experience from online interactions to in-person aquarium visits more seamless, the aquarium's small marketing team implemented a three-step process. First, it developed customer personas, then mapped the customer experience and designed tailored marketing campaigns, while constantly evaluating for potential improvements.

Moreover, in an effort to continuously listen to the guests' experiences and make subsequent improvements to both online and offline interactions, the Georgia Aquarium marketing team chose to focus on the pre- and post-visit experiences for its initial pilot program. Visitors receive one triggered email prior to their visit, which provides details about their upcoming day at the aquarium, and one email post-visit that focuses on collecting feedback from the onsite experience—giving the marketing team the insight it needs, while also engaging with each visitor at a personal level. The aquarium uses IBM Silverpop Engage, a cloud-based digital marketing platform within IBM Commerce, to easily manage these campaigns.

To date, Georgia Aquarium has increased revenue from email more than 30 percent.

"Prior to revamping our digital marketing program, we were missing out on a lot of potential revenue," said Rosie Judd, director of digital media for Georgia Aquarium, in a statement. "We went back to the drawing board—literally—and spent countless hours mapping a visitor's path across different touch points. Then, we created one campaign at a time. After putting in place several tailored, automated campaigns, we have seen a huge increase in engagement rates and continue to build on this momentum."

With four distinct goals in mind—customer acquisition, customer loyalty, renewals and reactivation—Georgia Aquarium set out on its plan of rebuilding its entire digital marketing program. The steps of this process included establishing buyer personas, creating a customer journey map and implementing campaigns, IBM said.

Homebase Provides Highly Personalized Shopping Experiences

IBM also announced that Homebase, one of the U.K.'s largest home and garden retailers, is tapping into IBM Commerce to provide highly personalized shopping experiences that are designed to meet the needs of its customer base. By integrating in-store, online and mobile channels, Homebase is able to customize every step of the customer journey to inspire a new generation of do-it-yourselfers.

As a result, Homebase has achieved double-digit sales growth in all digital sales channels and a 30 percent increase in online visitors, IBM said.

With more than 38,000 home and garden products, Homebase wants to help customers not only find the right products but also guide them through the successful completion of their home improvement projects. With more than 40 percent of its customers now visiting online, Homebase collaborated with IBM to help redesign how its digital channels could offer more help, advice and inspiration.

Using advanced analytics to understand and anticipate customer needs, IBM is working with Homebase to tailor the customer experience across more than 160 different kinds of home improvement projects. Homebase can now offer relevant tips and interactive product information that inspire its customers while providing fast and convenient ways to receive the products they need when they need them.

"Our business is changing rapidly. It's not just selling wood, nails or screws, it's about helping our customers live in a home they really love," said Jo Kenrick, marketing director for Homebase, in a statement. "By standardizing our platform on IBM Commerce, Homebase has transformed its digital presence into an interactive inspirational showroom that guides them through all their home improvement needs."

Homebase worked with IBM Interactive Experience to design and develop an engaging customer experience that integrates physical and digital channels to transform Homebase into a true omni-channel retailer. In addition, Homebase tapped into IBM's ecosystem of partners to integrate additional enhancements to the IBM platform, such as digital content engagement from CoreMedia and advanced search capability from BloomReach.

"Homebase demonstrates how market-leading retailers can adapt to new buying patterns by always putting the customer's needs at the center of all their business decisions," said Deepak Advani, general manager of IBM Commerce, in a statement. "By helping Homebase better understand their customers, IBM enhances the shopping experience in ways that surprise and delight even longtime customers."