AMA taps IBM’s Smarter Commerce suite

Updated Sept. 6, 2012 at 12:25 p.m.

IBM announced on September 6 at the Smarter Commerce Global Summit the newest addition to its client roster: the American Marketing Association (AMA), one of the largest marketing organizations in the world.

A membership-based association, the AMA says it’s using IBM’s Smarter Commerce suite of Web analytics and digital marketing software to better target and reach out to its 30,000 members, which include chief marketing officers and other senior-level marketing professionals. The AMA will also use IBM’s solution to increase its marketing automation efforts and integrate its various inbound and outbound marketing campaigns across channels to engender greater member loyalty.

Previously, the AMA, which provides members with training, education, and networking opportunities, used multiple third-party vendors to handle its data, resulting in a somewhat disorganized view of its membership base. AMA plans to use IBM’s Smarter Commerce software to sift through the data deluge and “pinpoint the needs of individual members” to “help deliver marketing resources and information that feels like a welcomed service,” says Yuchun Lee, VP of IBM Enterprise Marketing Management.

The AMA’s move, Lee says, is representative of the general shift toward greater personalization in every arena, be it B2B or B2C.

“Like any association, there is a great need for [the AMA] to build relationships and build relevant content to service members,” Lee told Direct Marketing News at the summit. “It’s no different than any other business looking to turn their messaging, and all their communications, into service-based marketing. The only way to be relevant to members is to know a lot more about their wants and their needs.”

The way the AMA will use IBM’s suite is, at its core, virtually identical to how any consumer-facing business would: to meet the various, and multifarious, needs of each individual. “The objective,” Lee says, “is the same.”

And just like any B2C brand would, a marketing association also has to market itself, says Craig Hayman, general manager of industry solutions for IBM Software Group. “It sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s true,” says Hayman, who notes that “marketing is a science as much as it may be considered an art today.”

It’s a point echoed by the AMA’s chief marketing officer Nancy Costopulos, who says it’s getting more and more difficult to manage the individual member input pouring in from various channels. “That cannot be managed without strong technology,” she says.

In general, Costopulos says one of the biggest issues on the mind of her organization’s members is the need for greater accountability and effectiveness.

“Marketers really need to be accountable for watching what we do and we rely on a lot of tools and technology to be able to do that,” she says. “Accountability should and must be driven by CMOs and the senior marketers in their organization. Then it’s about tying that back to overall growth and ultimately, brand valuation.”

Other brands currently using IBM’s Smarter Commerce technology include Radio Shack, Virgin Atlantic, Lenovo, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and, Canada’s answer to Amazon.

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