IBM Benchmark Live: Solve your Holiday Marketing Struggles with Realtime Analytics


I rarely review individual products on my blog because I am a strong advocate of analytics and data integration methodology instead of one quick fix. However, I would like to make an exception this time because the product I will be discussing is a pretty timely and beneficial tool for holiday marketing. (disclosure: I am an IBMer but the blog post is unbiased overview of a useful product)

Before I discuss the product itself, I would like to give a quick intro on the history of the development. IBM Digital Analytics (DA) which is a cloud based web/mobile analytics platform has a built-in tool called IBM DA Benchmark. IBM customer’s opt-in to anonymously provide their digital data to Benchmark database. This data is processed through multiple algorithms and surfaced in form of actionable reports and dashboards. Using Benchmark, customers can compare their website or mobile key performance indicators against industry peers and competitors across multiple industries, verticals and geographies.

To date, the IBM Benchmark dashboard and reports were only available to DA customers. This year we took some of the key benchmark metrics and built a new free analytics tool called IBM ExperienceOne Benchmark Live that can be accessed by anyone using desktop or mobile device. The tool is designed to give marketers and retailers instant access to real-time, online shopping trends and most importantly the holiday shopping trends. IBM Benchmark Live (and its full version called IBM DA Benchmark) in a way are the true real time big data analytics platforms developed for marketers.

With Benchmark Live marketers can dive into some of the commerce KPIs such as online conversation rate, sales and traffic and optimize their marketing programs in realtime.


IBM ExperienceOne Benchmark Live

Banking on holiday shopping trends

Holiday has always been a season for fun, family and food and more importantly gifts! In US and countries that celebrate Thanksgiving & Christmas people shop for their favorite products and gifts for others during the holiday season. Retailers, on the other hand, compete with each other to acquire as many customers as possible using personalized marketing, coupons, deals and realtime communication. Retailers have also increased focused on shipping optimization this year to improve upon the last year’s holiday shipping debacle.

Retailers rely on the digital data to improve marketing, sales and shipping. The data comes from their own data warehouses and from the vendors who provide holiday trends. This year all major analytics and data vendors have released their holiday shopping predictions. IBM has also predicted three key insights for this holiday season:

  • More than half of the online holiday shopping will come from mobile device (53% approx.).
  • Online sales projected to increase 15% YoY over the five-day period between Thanksgiving and CyberMonday.
  • IOS will drive twice as much shopping traffic as Android.

In addition to holiday predictions, IBM has also released the metrics dashboard in the form of IBM Benchmark Live. Let’s look at how can marketers can derive actionable insights from Benchmark Live data.

Benchmark Live has two report sections:

1. 24/7 access to realtime digital analytics and

2. YoY key holiday trends and stats.

Benchmark Live Realtime Analytics

Using realtime analytics you can analyze online shopping data across a range of key metrics such as online sales, traffic, average order value, conversion rate, shopping cart abandonment and bounce rate. If you are worried about your holiday conversion, you can quickly review the conversion trends and take actions. You can also compare smartphone trends to tablets and make a last minute executive decision to launch a mobile shopping cart or a mobile marketing campaign. Savvy marketers can also drill down and further segment mobile traffic to tablet vs smartphone or IOS vs Android. The graphs and charts can be downloaded in JPEG format or can be shared with your peers using social sharing.

Here are a couple of use cases on how the information can be applied in real life.

Average order value use case:

Email Marketing Manager Erica is not sure if her email campaigns are competitive enough to drive maximum average order value (AOV) during the holiday period. She analyzes other channels and finds the AOV ($125) similar to email campaigns. She wants to compare and validate her campaign performance with others in the industry.

Solution: Erica logs into IBM Benchmark Live tool and clicks the AOV report. She finds the total AOV is hovering around $150 on average for desktop and $110 for mobile devices for the last few hours. Armed with this data she gets approval to add a high converting cross-sell the product to her mobile email campaign. She also launches AB tests to test email creative to compare mobile and desktop email performance.

Result: Erica is able to improve the AOV by 15%. She is able to measure her campaign performance improvement to other competitors and continue optimization over the holiday shopping season.


IBM Benchmark Live Average Order Value (Mobile)

Conversion and Shopping Cart Abandonment use case:

Marketing Automation Manager Arthur uses IBM Digital Analytics to identify a 12% drop in conversion for the winter shoe newsletter since the launch of the new payment system few hours ago. He informs this to IT but the IT team assures him the conversion rate is an industry standard, and the drop is not statistically significant.

Solution: Arthur uses IBM Benchmark Live to compare the conversion rate and the shopping cart abandonment rate of their site to other competitors. He notices the benchmark metrics are steady and in fact, there has been a steady improvement in the conversion rate in the last few hours, and abandonment rate is gradually declining. He shares this information with IT and Marketing leaders to build a case for capturing email on the first step of the newsletter purchase process and influences IT to debug the new code deployment.

Result: Arthur gets an approval to implement cart abandonment email capture and followup. Upon investigation, IT finds a bug in the code which was preventing tablet buyers from completing the purchase. He is able to improve the conversion and increase the winter shoe newsletter sales by 22%.


IBM Benchmark Live Conversion Rate

These are just few examples of how the data can be used to optimize campaigns in realtime.

YoY Key Holiday Trends

During holiday season, Benchmark Live will also provide few other key pieces of information with regards to the actual holiday shopping trend. You will be able to compare Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday YoY data, which will be refreshed every three hours according to the following schedule:

[9:30] a.m. PST
[12:30] p.m. PST
[3:30] p.m. PST
[6:30] p.m. PST

A final update will be available after [12:00] a.m. PST.

I absolutely believe this free information can help marketers, and retailers improve their campaigns in realtime. Let me know if you have any specific questions about IBM Benchmark Live and I will be happy to help you and connect you to the right team.

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