If you are excited about challenging thinking and leading change for our clients in customer analytics and enterprise marketing technologies, we’d love to hear from you. We have two open Customer Insights analyst positions to focus on these critical coverage areas – customer analytics and enterprise marketing technologies. You will write research for, present to, and advise Customer Insights Professionals to help guide their customer data, analytics, and marketing technology decisions.
Today I heard an agency describe the content strategy that it was working for a client. At the end of the description (which revolved around how the client saw itself, and what it wanted to talk about), I said: “That sounds like an ad pitch.” Awkward silence.
Right now, in meeting rooms around the world, bad ideas for content strategies are being hatched. And it’s no fault of the idea-hatchers.
Sitting in a meeting room.
Thinking about the company’s (or client’s) management or board.
Needing to sell an idea in to sceptical constituents.
Knowing, no matter what they hatch, it’ll get enough paid air cover to make it look a winner.
So they lay an almighty egg of a content strategy. An egg that, within the hothouse confines of the group that hatched it, meets only reaffirmation. But the content strategy doesn’t serve customers. Not at all. And it doesn’t serve the real strategic goals of the company behind it.
How do you get around this natural tendency of organizations to lay eggs?
You need a very strong counterweight to the natural tendency towards basic self-interestedness from the parties involved (client approval for the agency, peer approval for the marketer, and self-serving messages for the internal stakeholders).
Audience-centric design is the response. Taking its cues from the user-centric design discipline, audience-centric design relies on rich and direct audience observation – both their attitudes and behaviors – in order to inspire value in the eyes of the audience.
Coalition loyalty programs that let consumers earn and redeem a single currency across multiple partners have historically failed to gain traction in the US. Why? The fragmented footprint of potential partners, proliferation of single-brand loyalty programs, and reluctance of brands to share customer data hampered hopeful coalition operators' efforts.
We analyzed the market opportunity for these types of programs in 2013, predicting that: "Given the time it takes to amass partners and consumer scale, we expect it to be at least another two years before a large-scale coalition is established in the US market." Well, it looks like we were spot on. Today, American Express announced that they will be launching a US coalition program later this Spring. The program, called Plenti, will debut with seven partners including Macy's, AT&T, Exxon Mobil, and Rite Aid.
American Express is well positioned for success as it has experience managing both proprietary and coalition loyalty through its own Membership Rewards program and the Payback coalition program (in Germany, Poland, and India). And while it's not clear yet how member data will be managed, the program launch creates an opportunity for participating partners to embrace adaptive intelligence and deepen their customer understanding and business growth. But, announcing and actually executing coalition loyalty at scale are two separate things. The true test for Plenti begins in May when consumers begin to enroll and use the program.
In last week’s post, I mentioned the upcoming transition of the Sales Enablement role to a much more strategic B2B Marketing role. In April, overnight, you will have immediate access to over a hundred reports about B2B marketing written by experienced Forrester analysts Laura Ramos, Lori Wizdo, and Kim Celestre.
This is in addition to the reports you know already from our existing sales enablement research. That body of research will continue as planned within the new role; there is no let-off in our momentum on sales enablement coverage. But this research will now be read by a much broader audience across B2B marketing. That is important for sales enablement automation vendors and service providers, because most of them actually sell their wares to the marketing department. So the reports we write about them will reach a larger audience.
Plus, as I discussed at the Sales Enablement Forum, you Sales Enablement Professionals are wearing at least six hats of responsibility, for what we call the six business goals of sales enablement, and you must continually educate and influence colleagues to get things done. Most of these colleagues are also in marketing, so we are helping your cause directly.
As an introduction to the new analysts in our group over the next few weeks, I will refer you to an interesting report that they have published and discuss how relevant it is to our sales enablement ambitions.
There’s no other way to slice it: competition for digital audiences is brutal. Intolerance for poor performance and disengaging experiences drives customers to competitor’s sites more quickly and more permanently than any time in history. Users increasingly demand digital experiences that personalize to their immediate needs and adapt to the current context, not treat them as a market or demographic segment.
In recently published research, we found that even as expectations soar, enterprises are personalizing with methods that are too unsophisticated, too opaque, or too convoluted to meet the complexity and mutability needed to serve individuals. Persona-based segmentation is too simplistic to meet current, much less future, customer expectations. Some solutions provide predictive analytics capabilities but are limited to a few algorithms or black-box methods (e.g. neural networks) are not easily adaptable to new data or scenarios. Those that rely heavily on rules have become morasses, some customers needing to manage and maintain hundreds or thousands of rules to guide digital experiences.
The increasing affordability of smartphones and wireless Internet is driving the exponential growth of smartphone adoption across most Asia Pacific countries. Brands must develop compelling digital marketing strategies in order to engage these technology-empowered customers, as many of them will have their first digital interactions with brands through a mobile device, not a desktop.
With this goal in mind, cosmetics retailer Maybelline chose responsive web design over mobile apps to connect with digitally savvy consumers in 10 Asian countries: Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. The reason for this was two fold:
Increase its reach among the target audience. Maybelline’s target audience is females between the ages of 15 and 25. The company’s objective was to reach out to as many customers who know the brand as possible and raise awareness among those who don’t. Responsive design helps them to serve all segments — the growing number of smartphone and tablet users and the large existing installed base of feature phone users.
Ensure fast time-to-market without increasing the burden on local teams. Building native mobile apps for each country would have had two implications. First, it would have been complex, costly, and slow to develop, optimize, and regularly update apps for at least two OSes (iOS and Android) per country. Second, Maybelline would have needed to manage a separate content management system (CMS) for each country’s mobile app in addition to the existing CMS for the desktop website. This was a significant obstacle, as the company did not want to employ additional, dedicated resources in every country to manage the mobile CMS and its associated complexities.
Spring is finally here, and with that, a time for wild animals to emerge from their winter sleep. We humans don’t really hibernate, but we can find it difficult to get out of bed to face a rather frosty environment. This applies to companies, too.
As we researched our new report about trends in European digital insurance, it became clear that no one is really disputing the value of direct insurance. European insurers have suffered seven lean years, as premiums in property, casualty, and life insurance largely stagnated. Direct sales have often been an area that continued to deliver growth. Because of this, we expect most European insurers to step up their investments and efforts in this area.
Western Europe is one of the largest online markets for cross-border trade: In 2014, Western consumers spent €26 billion on cross-border trade, representing 17% of eCommerce sales in Western Europe. Our recently published Forrester Research Online Cross-Border Retail Forecast, 2013 To 2018 (Western Europe) shows that cross-border trade depends on sales flowing into a country from domestic cross-border purchases and sales flowing out of a country from nondomestic shoppers. Cross-border trade gives retailers an opportunity to expand outside of their domestic markets with minimum upfront investment. To succeed, retailers must understand the cross-border shopper and how to compete internationally.
Online cross-border shoppers:
Are looking for the best price. Price-sensitive online shoppers drive cross-border sales. The price of domestic goods in countries like Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Ireland make the consumer more likely to shop cross-border to find a bargain.
Are looking for the best choice. The consumer choice offered by large online retail markets in countries like the UK, France, and Germany make the consumer less likely to shop outside of their domestic market.
Spend more online, have higher incomes, and are younger than domestic shoppers. Retailers need to know the types of categories bought online to better target the cross-border shopper.
A few years back, FedEx learned that "the leaning tower of packages" at its retail locations was making many customers uneasy. Store employees would take a customer's package and place it on the messy pile. Based on that simple visual cue, these customers worried that their package might very well get lost in their seemingly haphazard shipping process. FedEx had run into a problem that plagues many companies, and that is the subject of my latest report, co-written with Tony Costa: CX Pros Are Blind to the Line of Visibility.
Most companies don't understand all of the complex interdependencies that shape their customer experience outcomes. Forrester surveyed CX professionals last year and found that while nearly two-thirds of them use customer journey maps to understand their customer experience, only one in five maps the CX ecosystem. So most CX pros do not understand how employees, business processes, technology systems, partners, and the operating environment come together to enable their customer experience.
And to make matters worse, this lack of understanding blinds them to what elements in their experience are visible or invisible to customers as they interact with the brand. This lack of visibility can lead to problems such as companies unintentionally exposing undesirable ecosystem elements to customers, hiding elements that could add value, or corrupting the experience through counterproductive policies and processes.
Recently we’ve had a chance to look again at two very conflicting views from HP and Facebook on how to do web-scale and cloud computing, both announced at the recent OCP annual event in California.
From HP come its new CloudLine systems, the public face of their joint venture with Foxcon. Early details released by HP show a line of cost-optimized servers descended from a conventional engineering lineage and incorporating selected bits of OCP technology to reduce costs. These are minimalist rack servers designed, after stripping away all the announcement verbiage, to compete with white-box vendors such as Quanta, SuperMicro and a host of others. Available in five models ranging from the minimally-featured CL1100 up through larger nodes designed for high I/O, big data and compute-intensive workloads, these systems will allow large installations to install capacity at costs ranging from 10 – 25% less than the equivalent capacity in their standard ProLiant product line. While the strategic implications of HP having to share IP and market presence with Foxcon are still unclear, it is a measure of HP’s adaptability that they were willing to execute on this arrangement to protect against inroads from emerging competition in the most rapidly growing segment of the server market, and one where they have probably been under immense margin pressure.