IBM: Innovations in 'Outside In' Conversations and Content

Challenge: Many companies are bothering customers with irrelevant content, rather than “conversing” with them through personalized interactions. Conversing with customers should now encompass key points of engagement starting with what you name products and services, as well as how you structure ongoing conversations based on the customer’s point of view. This requires a whole new way of thinking, but generates significant results.
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According to the Maritz Report on Customer Preferences, “consumers overwhelmingly expect their voices to be heard by companies via the web. Not only do they expect companies to be listening, but the study also reveals that 85 percent of consumers are very happy when businesses respond to their public comments in online forums and social media venues.”
Listening and conversing with customers is one of the most important aspects of a successful marketing initiative. According to learnings from ERDM VoC research, it’s marketer's responsibility to listen to customers and understand their true needs;
» Consumers have shifted from being passive recipients of ‘push’ marketing, to selecting companies which engage, listen to, and act on, input from customers and prospects.
» Achieve frictionless, high-value, engagement across every medium in the multichannel mix.
» Customers engage with your messages across multiple media. Ensure message and brand consistency across all your media.
IBM has developed a new approach for listening and conversing with companies. It is championed by Denise M. Beckmann, IBM Worldwide, Senior Digital Marketing Lead who had this to share regarding their strategy, “Outside-In is our name for centralizing around the conversations customers are having. It is the starting point for naming products and services to be recognizable and the initial scope for web site information architecture (navigation paths) and content strategy.
»  “We update and modify something every 2 weeks. The front pages and rotation topics change as the customer conversation changes.”
»  “In order to maintain a high search ranking, we avoided use of ‘IBM speak.’”
The company launched a new cloud web experience, and per Beckmann, “Day one of the launch was tied to social media launches in Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and "ThoughtsOnCloud" SME blog.
 
The Results:
» The most retweets ever from @IBMCloud
»  Trending on LinkedIn for two days with over 900 shares
»  Over 300 recommendations on Facebook
»  A 400% increase in social referrals to IBM.com/SmartCloud in July
»  Page visits went from less than four thousand to over forty-thousand per month, by intercepting conversations.
"We feel strongly that access to our experts in social forums is critical to engaging in conversations. Delivering cloud content based upon the existing conversations while simultaneously allowing for questions in forums like LinkedIin and Facebook was key. Quality content immediately brought additional social referrals connecting us to the “Right People”, in a way database marketing never could."
Key Takeaways:
1. Develop a content strategy built around customer personalization including: education about your products, how they can be purchased, where they can be purchased, and how it meets customers’ needs.
2. Have a fully integrated multichannel strategy so that each aspect of your marketing is supported and integrated across channels.
3. Have conversations with customers regarding what they want to know, not just what you want to sell.
4. Authentically be ready to engage in conversation in a sustainable way. Customers expect you to answer their questions when you step into social environments.