The Simbound online simulation environment is designed to provide participants with insight and practice of contemporary online marketing and advertising. It is an online app and participants will not be asked to access other websites or resources to make full use of Simbound. The Simbound system has different features that help the instructor manage course participants, change the parameters of the simulation and automatically compute results and reports.
Simbound operates with virtual funds and simulated consumer behaviour so there is no real financial risk or concerns regarding potential damage done to a brand when the system is being used. As such Simbound allows the testing out of marketing operations and ideas in a safe environment which is dynamic and realistic.
- Understand the term Digital Marketing and the advantages of using it: cost-effective, easier to track and measure progress, higher engagement compared to traditional methods and limitations: time-commitment required to manage it, can be obtrusive, may not be suitable for all products
- How to define and manage online ad systems and inventory related to website content, e-mail, affiliate marketing, search engine marketing and advertising, social media, analytics
- Practice the main elements of a digital marketing strategy: alignment to business goals and marketing objectives, setting plans and creating digital marketing assets, performing online consumer analysis, working with platforms, managing budgets, reporting
- How to administer a multi-channel online marketing campaign (Web, Search Engine, Social Media, E-mail)
- How to monitor and interpret operational and financial online advertising metrics
- Working on the main components of a website : company brand or logo, homepage, product/landing pages, services/product description, links, forms, e-commerce facility, website structure and sitemap
- Managing keywords and understanding their importance in optimising content for a website and/or ads platform.
- Practicing the sending out of newsletters through e-mail to a list of prospects which have agreed to receive periodical updates
- How to manage a multi-purpose online brand community
The learning outcomes for the participants will depend on a host of factors, including: their theoretical background and level of instruction, but also on the complexity of the simulation scenario and the learning goals that are set out by the instructor.
The scenarios usually involve selling technology or other types of products via multiple online marketing channels that converge to one website, with campaigns that need to set up in accordance to consumer preferences and product lifecycles. Meeting a predefined series of challenges can be turned on or off. There are two categories of access rights in Simbound: the instructor and the participant. Some functions are common for both categories of users such as system notifications and user profile settings while each account type has their own features.
As a Simbound simulation instructor, your role is to configure and monitor simulation instances called courses or games. Instructors can organize and manage simulation courses, they help participants throughout the registration and initial learning process. Instructors should also provide feedback on simulation results while the participants have the role of interpreting simulation conditions and operating online advertising systems while they are free to check and compare their work and their results to that of their peers. Simulations can be used by individual participants or teams.
Please remember: in order to be able to access and browse the participant simulation you will need to hold specific participant account credentials. You can also ‘Login As’ as one of the existing participants enrolled to your course. To do this navigate to the ‘Participants’ tab of the course and hover your mouse over the name of the participant in order for this feature to be displayed.
The planner is used by the participants to get familiarized with the conditions that are present in the simulation and contains relevant information and a few tools. The business case document is available here, and participants can consult the value of their marketing budget and how this is made available across rounds. There is also a suggested timeline for making an initial set of decisions as well as the feature of adding individual marketing plans and sales estimates for the first rounds of the simulation. To help in making projections, the planner can be used together with information from the Research section of the Ads simulation to determine relative interest for certain products.
Participants can also add tasks to their team mates or on to themselves and they can monitor and update the status of each task. Keeping track of tasks is helpful both in team environments as well as when individual participants need a way to keep track of their decisions and the status of completion.
The website simulation is a mandatory simulation section and it allows participants to deal first hand in operations performed on their website such as the set up and measurement of different properties. Participants are encouraged to test out different approaches and try to improve the response rates from the virtual audience who is visiting the their website. Operations include: market or audience targetting, writing commercial descriptive information, promotional copy and call to actions, carrying out website graphic design, digital asset optimization and placement, and collecting information about prospective customers, called leads. Participants have the freedom of testing out different versions of a webpage.
The instructor can set up objectives for participants to follow such as the creation of website pages in each new round. Participants usually carry out activities and meet goals that consist of improving the sales (conversion) rate of their websites, collect prospect and customer data, reach new demographics or markets or carry out different promotions aimed at customer segments or locations while testing out different combinations of prices and/or product.
Product performance is monitored across the website property and across the different rounds as well as in relation to the source of the traffic.
Each website page will have its performance stored and segmented using the main traffic acquisition channels: Organic, Direct, Referral, Ads, E-mail
The Search Engine Marketing dashboard allows placing and managing paid advertisments on the simulated Search Engine “Baigoo”.
The user interface is similar to that of marketing solutions and includes both data visualization such as charts and reports as well as dynamic data tables that act both as a decision making and reporting interfaces.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is an umbrella term which includes internet marketing techniques that promote website visibility in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Methods include: Paid placement - also referred to as Pay-per-click (PPC), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Contextual advertising. With Simbound students carry out PPC Marketing as well as monitor the presence of their website in searc engine results (SEO).
The features of the dashboard are:
- Research Search Keywords across multiple data points: Monthly Search Trends, Cost Per Click, Competition from other advertisers
- Create and manage a Search Engine Marketing Campaign: Keyword selection, Budget alocation, Bid Setting, Targeting, Ad copy writing, Ad copy testing of multiple versions (A/B testing)
- Results filtering options: by metrics such as Clicks, Impressions, CTR, Conversions, or by different rounds and markets etc. - Exporting of data for further analysis and reporting
Please Note: to explore these features you need to “Login as” one of the students in your courses. You will find more information about each simulation section in the participant guide
Participants can create e-mail campaigns by clicking on the new e-mail campaign button found to the right of each landing page in the Web section, or by clicking the “Mail” icon from the main dashboard or on the E-mail symbol from the left menu. This will launch an e-mail campaign builder utility which allows the use of an already existing page as the message. Participants can choose a number of leads (contacts) the message will be sent to and it will allows the set up of an optional A/B Test and the use of an optional price discount .
There are various graphs placed in the center part of the page which list the main indicators: open rate, CTR, click rate, value, unsubscribed) across the rounds.
The online brand community simulation allows participants to set up one or several virtual spaces for their virtual audience. They are presented with several options when setting up the type of community: support, advocate, social (network), contest, marketplace,insight. Each community will require different virtual resources called Sparks and Sense. Sparks represent resources devoted to geting attention and Sense are resources used to analyze and extract insights from communities by community managers. Students can collaborate in managing a community together.
Simbound is a fun, competitive game in which participants will constantly try to outperform their peers. To see how they are doing they can consult the Co-opetition section after each finished round to get an overview of their results and rankings in the simulation. Information and data about the total traffic (web analytics), comparative analysis and teams market share (SEM) are displayed here. The “coopetition” section can motivate the participants to think about new strategies and ideas for future rounds
Instructors and participants are kept up to date with the latest changes that were made to the simulation on here.
Instructors can easily identify the amount of work that has been done by each student and grade participation accordingly.