The IBM Marketing Cloud is a suite of tools covering lead management, budget planning, email, personalisation, mobile, analytics, social and recommendations.
IBM pushes two innovations in particular: its Journey Designer software for improving customer experience; and its Universal Behaviour Exchange for connecting data across applications.
In mid-2014, IBM acquired marketing automation firm Silverpop which, alongside other acquisitions like Coremetrics (analytics), Unica (campaign management), DemandTec (cloud analytics), Tealeaf (customer behaviour analysis) and Xtify (ad-focused mobile messaging), round out its marketing cloud offering.
IBM explains it all colourfully in this 2:30 min overview:
IBM also seems keen that this 6 minute July 2014 Silverpop Product Demo still does a good job at explaining the basics:
BlueSky Technology Partners has collected together a few different videos covering different aspects of the IBM Marketing Cloud so you can get a handle on things.
IBM laid down a few of its trump cards in the marketing cloud wars, bringing cognitive computing to parts of its marketing portfolio, including Real-Time Personalization and Cognitive Rule Adviser.
A selling point is that the big data-crunching supercomputer Watson can help an IBM client stay on top of where a customer might be in their journey e.g. whether they are an uninitiated amateur cyclist or a hardened cycling veteran.
The technology looks at customer data and suggests personalised offers and messages that might be appropriate at that point in time; it then analyses the respective success of these efforts and adjusts campaigns accordingly – press release.
IBM also announced its plans to weave together its acquisition of The Weather Company (making it the second largest location services company in the world) with Watson capabilities. By way of example, weather-related triggers can help marketers and ecommerce professionals automatically tweak assets and creative – AdExchanger.
FEBRUARY 2016 – Tech partnerships
IBM has inked deals with Apple, VMware, GitHub, WebSphere and OpenWhisk, all announced at its InterConnect conference in Las Vegas – Computer Business Review.
— Aylee Nielsen (@AyleeNielsen) February 24, 2016
OCTOBER 2015 – New product
IBM Universal Behavior Exchange (UBX) to its marketing cloud, which unifies all the different bits of marketing tech involved – Ad Exchanger.
Mobile technology company Vibes announced an integration with UBX, giving users greater visibility into mobile data – Media Post.
MAY 2015 – New products
IBM doubles down on the customer journey, adding Journey Designer, Journey Analytics, Customer Experience Analytics and Commerce Insights to its marketing cloud – IT Business Canada.
On its website, IBM asks that you contact it directly for pricing.
According to CRM Search, Silverpop Engage pricing at least is based on database size or email distribution volume, with other variables in play, such as support and API integration:
“For a sample price estimate, a full-featured marketing automation program, with a database size of 100,000 leads, would cost about $2,500 per month.”
IBM Marketing Cloud can be found among the challengers in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs:
Gartner, in its analysis, recommends considering IBM “if you are an enterprise business in any industry with a high-to-medium level of digital marketing expertise and unique requirements not met by other solutions.” It also praises IBM’s analytics offering as “robust”, but finds that the overall deployment can be complex, leading to customers often only using certain parts of the package.
“The application has very robust and flexible functionality while maintaining a relatively high ease of use. Relatively complicated segmentation logic can be created for a campaign by a knowledgeable user and the application design supports efficient execution.” They conclude that IBM Campaign is slower but more sophisticated than the “superfast” Alterian.
Another reviewer sums up IBM Campaign: “Well-suited for email campaigns. Requires a decent investment of resources to install and develop user processes. Works relatively well for projects with short turnaround times in an environment where data is pulled from multiple sources.”
IBM Silverpop Engage meanwhile scores 6.5 out of 10 on TrustRadius. An effusive reviewer exclaims: “I’ve been a customer for over 6 years and have very few complaints. And many that I had at one point or another along the way have already been improved. Engage offers the flexibility I need to manage, track, and report on a robust array of marketing programs. Their customer service, account management, training and industry advice/best practices has always been a fantastic resource. You can integrate their product with almost any other software especially if you have access to technical resources in house although they do offer many plug and play solutions too.”
Michael Hobley, Silverpop Administrator & Web Designer at Intertek, summarises:
“Silverpop Engage performs it’s core email function very well. The scoring module is also great for automating lead qualification. Excellent API and very helpful community and knowledge base. WYSIWYG editor is weak, and integration with MS Dynamics (a relatively new capability) has had some bumps. Product performance can be a little sluggish. Vendor is great to work with, and, on balance, we are very happy with the product.”
IBM’s Digital Analytics offering receives mixed reviews on TrustRadius, scoring 6.6 out of 10. Nolan Margo, Web Analytics Specialist at Petplan Pet Insurance, is scathing, mentioning:
“IBM Digital Analytics is HEAVILY geared towards online retailers, acting more as a website’s cash register as opposed to a tried-and-true web diagnostic and analytics tool. The support for IBM Digital Analytics was lackluster, we found ourselves often tangled in the bureaucracy that is IBM, when REAL problems occurred.”
Stewart Pratt, Regional Director, Strategy and Analytics at MarketShare, mentions of Digital Analytics that the “cost structure is often quite favorable, if a company has chosen other products within the IBM family” and counsels that “IBM Digital Analytics is a better choice who are focused exclusively on e-commerce, heavily regulated industries, or simply interested in precision marketing and CRM. For those companies which prioritize style, form, and flexibility over precision (aka Art over Science), other solutions may be more effective.”
Navigating IBM’s training and certification pages really deserves its own training module – a faster way to find what you need might be to approach a global training provider like LearnQuest or Arrow ECS Education.
IBM’s ExperienceOne (enterprise marketing management) training paths include customer experience management, digital analytics and digital/omni-channel marketing. These involve combinations of web-based, self-paced and intructor-led programmes.
There is a search engine for IBM’s training programmes.
Certification for Silverpop Engage is available to customers, including a Fundamentals Certification and Professional Certification.
Separately, there appear to be two US-based, two-day IBM Marketing Cloud badge workshops (Intermediate and Professional), each costing $499.
Download this whitepaper to find out how the UK marketing community is using email from digital marketers at large and medium-sized companies from a wide range of sectors.