Chief marketing officers (CMO) are under the gun. Exhibit A: Customers are more empowered and fueling an era where smartphones and tablets have replaced PCs. Exhibit B: Social networks have usurped ads and Sunday fliers as the resource for brand information. Exhibit C: Consumers are learning about brands quickly, forming opinions even faster and reacting before you’ve even finished your morning coffee. For CMOs, even the smallest blind spot or misstep could spark a behavioral change capable of fracturing the customer relationship.
This is why I’m calling for CMOs to take off their suit coats in favor of lab coats and trade their white boards for microscopes. Take the popular show CSI an example. To solve even the most basic of mysteries, the Crime Lab examines every piece of evidence under the microscope. The why is simple—the microscope takes things that normally are invisible to the human eye and puts them into focus, providing answers, which help the team anticipate their suspect’s next move.
In the world of brand marketing the situation isn’t that different. Marketers today are charged with investigating small objects–the minute to minute actions of their customers. This can include how they’re shopping or not shopping via their iPad or what they’re saying about their brand on Facebook and Twitter. But like in the lab, these insights can’t be gleaned without the right technology. In fact they, require the microscope of analytics.
Analytics give marketers a chance to watch how consumers interact with one another and react with brands, products and campaigns. An example of an analytic tool in action is our economic indicator. The indicator provides a snap shot of online retail sales and shopping trends as well as consumer sentiment towards the online and offline shopping experience. This project is exactly the type of effort brands should be conducting every day, just on a much broader scale.
For instance, IBM has discovered that mobile commerce has passed the point of no return with sales over mobile devices reaching 13.3 percent, nearly double what we witnessed in the first quarter 2011.
We also found some interesting trends when it comes to consumer sentiment. Consumers are becoming more and more satisfied with the buying experience, including convenience, which had a 65.8 percent positive sentiment rating, more than six times the negative. However, there were also some areas that brands must address including issues around product availability.
Now imagine you are the CMO. By observing these customer protons and neutrons in real-time, they can secure an unfiltered view of how their brand is being viewed. Are consumers satisfied with the shopping experience your band is delivering? Perhaps issues exist around product availability. When marketing campaigns are delivered, buyers who find out that those products are not available or out of stock turn their focus elsewhere. With this insight the issue can be fixed through intelligent automation.
Next, you can observe their actions. For example, if sales for the past week have dropped off, what was the cause? Perhaps your latest campaign didn’t deliver a compelling mobile commerce element that your audience craves. Maybe your customers have started to shop through their tablets but your site isn’t configured to handle the iPad and therefore you’re siphoning off dollars to the competition. Knowing the root cause can help you avert a bad chemical reaction that can ultimately blow up in your face.
While the IBM economic indicator is designed to put the retail industry under the microscope, the fact is that companies today have the opportunity to execute a similar analysis of their own business. This willingness to embrace this new technology may put them in a position to regain control at a time when it seems like the consumer is calling all the shots.