Marketers have more choices then they really need when it comes to social marketing tools. Market fragmentation and consolidation, along with the internal organizational struggles we all face, make it a challenging time to be a marketer.
But don’t worry — we’re here to help! After analyzing the marketplace and interviewing 35 companies ranging from brands to agencies to vendors, my “Unraveling The Social Technology Web” report discusses:
The evolution of the social marketing technology landscape
Principles for determining if you truly need a particular technology
An overview of technologies that support specific social tactics across the customer life cycle
Our team will continue writing reports analyzing this space, so feel free to share the topics that interest you along with the challenges you face with social technologies.
Some of you may have seen my earlier blog post on why you should attend CX Marketing Singapore 2016! Our annual Forrester Singapore event returns in less than two weeks, and I'm excited to hear from our own Forrester experts as well as esteemed industry speakers on how customer experience is and will continue to be the key differentiator for organizations to succeed in the age of the customer.
I hope to see you at the Marina Mandarin on August 25 — register here if you haven't already! In the meantime, here's a sneak peek of what to expect at the Forum. I had the opportunity to speak with David Peller, Director, Strategic Partnerships, Asia Pacific at Booking.com, who gave us the inside scoop on how Booking.com has organized itself to be customer-obsessed, which it believes gives it an edge today. Here's what he had to say:
How has the age of the customer affected the travel industry? How have you seen your customer needs evolve?
If you think back to the time when travel was essentially an offline shopping experience, the customer used to spend hours deliberating with imperfect information, guided by a travel agent. Today, technology democratizes the travel experience — and you don't just have to take the view of one person for granted. On Booking.com, we have more than 100 million verified reviews of properties, places and activities, which provides engaging content for every potential traveler to explore.
Can you tell us briefly about Booking.com's digital transformation program and the approach that you've taken?
At Forrester, “EO + 6” is code for the publication status of a playbook. It stands for Executive Overview plus six reports – at which point, we formally launch the playbook with its special links and landing page on Forrester.com. Playbooks are designed to help clients succeed with complex programs, such as organizational transformation.
Get Ready For The B2B Marketing Renaissance
The next wave of competitive advantage for B2B companies will come from deepening customer knowledge and taking action based on an obsessive desire to deliver what their customers want before their competitors do. This fundamentally changes the role of B2B marketers; they need to evolve from brand stewards, lead generation machines, and sales supporters to architects of customer engagement across the customer life cycle. The B2B marketing playbook provides practical guidance for B2B professionals who are leading and living that transformation.
Today, everyone is a content producer. At Forrester, we’ve seen many companies do this- whether it’s Virgin America’s Hollywood-produced in-flight videos, Kohler’s partnership with parent bloggers to create YouTube content, or Lego’s webisodes available on their website. Customers' interactions with your firm rely on the content you produce at every interaction point.
Rich media content adds the soul to these experiences. While text and copy are still prevalent and important, rich media like videos and images are unparalleled in their ability to drive customer attention and create emotional connections. Specifically, rich media helps drive more interactive marketing campaigns, enrich the brand experience, and support customer experiences driven by sales, product, commerce, and lines-of-business groups (not just marketing!).
DAM will be a critical technology to help enable the creation, management, usage, and retention of these rich media assets. Our latest evaluation in the DAM space found that many vendors are attempting to serve these needs, but few lead. The major differentiators we found are around:
Cloud and agility. Today, enterprise customers are embracing, and demanding, DAM solutions managed in the cloud. They demand cloud-first DAM solutions so that they can rapidly deploy solutions, always run on the latest code (no more painful upgrades!), leave operations to someone else, support scalability, and replace capital expenditures with monthly operating expenses. But too many DAM vendors are behind.
Marketers often voice their frustration to me about the rate of turnover at their agencies. It is hard to lose a great team member, but it’s more difficult to be left holding the bag for bringing someone new up to speed on the business.
And this happens frequently. Agencies compete with each other, tech companies, startups and brands to attract and retain the best employees. Many use culture as a differentiator in the talent wars. In fact, 77% of agencies we surveyed listed culture as a way to engage and retain employees. Even with these efforts, agencies suffer from low employee morale and rising employee turnover.
For this reason, it’s critical for marketers to pay attention to an agency’s efforts towards building and nurturing its culture. Marketers that build this evaluation into the agency vetting process and look for a cultural fit will experience less turnover on accounts, higher quality work and a better relationship with their agency.
And agencies that connect leadership behavior, hiring efforts, employee engagement and new business efforts to culture will build working environments that attract and retain talent, while delivering superior client experience.
So I visit this coffee shop close to office pretty often. The other day I was waiting in line and I paused to ask myself – why do I keep coming here? I mean, everything about the exercise including the taste is pretty unremarkable. I order, I’m served, I leave. So then why do I repeatedly give them my business?
You guessed it. I go there day after day, month after month because it is – wait for it… convenient. And predictable. Certainly not because it’s “awesome”. I’m not looking for a fake smile or a scripted line. It’s a really tiny part of my day. My expectations are minimal, they are met, and I’m satisfied. That’s it.
Globally, companies swoon over the superior experience delivered by the likes of Amazon and Apple; paeans have been written about Zappos’ legendary customer service. Last time I looked, a Zappos service associate apparently spent over 10 hours on a service call! Good for them!
Should you follow suit? May be not.
Of course CX is critical. In fact, in the Age of the Customer, we propose it’s the only way forward.
Employees are the lifeblood of a customer-obsessed enterprise. No matter how advanced a company's technology, how big its data, or how trendy it’s marketing, businesses today simply cannot succeed without employees who devote themselves to customers. However, many companies struggle to build a customer-obsessed workforce because they:
Hire for skills and experience. Siloed hiring managers focus primarily on job candidates' technical skills and experience and seek little input from applicants' potential colleagues. Knowing how well candidates can code, lift boxes, or write marketing copy is important. However, skillset alone doesn't tell employers if applicants are willing and able to use their skills and cooperate with their coworkers in customer-obsessed ways.
Have weak training programs. Most training programs consist of long and dry classroom, online, and coaching sessions rather than short and engaging sound bites that employees can access when they need to. Even worse, training focuses solely on employees' job responsibilities, businesses processes, and operation of technical systems — topics that rarely help employees become more customer-obsessed.
Fail to recognize and reward customer obsession. Our data shows that although 42% of companies claim that excellent customer treatment is one of their core values, only one-third of companies actually hold employees accountable and tie employees' incentives to customer experience (CX) metrics.
Too few digital banking teams allocate significant resources to their alerts efforts — as evidenced by the mixed results in the Alerts category of Forrester’s Digital Banking Benchmark scores. But some banks have recently sought to improve their email, SMS, and in-app alerts (also called “push notifications”).
Bank of America has now launched the latest updates to its alerts. Just a couple of years ago, the bank’s email alerts were text-heavy, unwieldy, crowded messages with little clear guidance for customers. But through multiple iterations, Bank of America redesigned its alerts to be clean and simple with a clear call to action based on the purpose of the alert (see images below).
Forrester spoke with Alex Wittkowski, VP and senior product manager of mobile banking and commerce at Bank of America, who discussed how the bank redesigned its email alerts “to focus on just those few crucial elements” at the heart of an alert’s value to the customer. According to Wittkowski, the redesigned alerts are now:
Marketers face continuous uphill battles when it comes to social media. Whether it’s an emerging social network, an algorithm change within an existing social network, or the technology that enables social across an enterprise, change is constant. And these changes don’t even account for behavioral changes among our prospects and customers. The situation will only become more challenging, so we urge marketers to embrace the POST process when developing marketing initiatives and to figure out where social can bolster your initiatives.
POST — which stands for people, objectives, strategy, and technology — is a tried-and-true process to create relevant marketing initiatives. Don’t get lost in the chaos of constant changes in social media. Samantha Ngo and I have written a new report to reinforce the benefits of POST; it highlights how to think through the process and shares details and examples to help you develop social tactics that further your marketing efforts. This report will help you:
Understand your customer’s view of social media before developing your marketing initiative
Define your marketing objective and its impact
Determine the best tactics to tie your audience and objective together
Find the right social technology to help you implement your cohesive strategy
This post is co-authored byShar VanBoskirk, VP and principal analyst at Forrester
On Monday, holding company Dentsu Aegis announced that it acquired a majority stake in Merkle, which is known for its CRM, data, and digital marketing capabilities. Logistically, this acquisition allows Merkle to increase its international presence, while beefing up Dentsu’s US coverage and allowing it to diversify outside of Japan. This acquisition is also important because Merkle was one of the last large independent agencies, which leaves slim pickings for marketers hoping to work with an agency not subject to holding-company rule (read: less autonomy, less entrepreneurial).
Dentsu Aegis is not unique in its acquisition of a data/CRM agency. All of the other holding companies have them too (WPP has Wunderman, Publicis has Rosetta [now Razorfish Global], IPG has The Hacker Agency, Omnicom has Rapp and Targetbase). This is because “customer relationship management” has broadened beyond direct mail and email marketing to include loyalty initiatives, ownership experiences, data strategy/modeling and technology integration — critical data and insights solutions for holding companies to provide to their clients.
With reported 2015 revenue at $436 million, Merkle will be Dentsu’s fourth-largest agency, behind Dentsu (the agency), Carat, and Isobar. With this move, we think that Dentsu’s should make CRM and data-driven marketing the centerpiece of its agency strategy — not just an additional services offering.