VR & Marketing: Beyond The Hype

Samantha Merlivat

Much has been said about Virtual Reality in 2016 after a number of companies, like HTC, Sony and Facebook, promised to bring their headset to market in the course of the year. Since then, VR has been on everybody’s lips. VR content creation platforms are mushrooming, VR ad exchanges are starting to appear and agencies have been quick to pitch VR concepts to marketers eager to show their brand is innovative.

We think it’s time for marketers to take a step back and ask themselves why they are pursuing VR: What are you gaining from it, and does it make sense for you to explore VR now? And don't get me wrong - I'm a VR enthusiast. But when it comes to VR in marketing, even I have to recognize there is still way more hype than substance. 

For certain product categories, it is clear that VR will be a game changer in the future, and that experimenting now will help take advantage of the technology as it gains in maturity. But other brands may have to accept that VR has little to offer for them in the next 5 years, and resources placed in VR could be better invested elsewhere for the time being. We’ve seen countless examples of branded VR initiatives last year that left marketers - and consumers - completely underwhelmed.

Thomas Husson and I investigated what opportunities VR creates for brands from a marketing perspective: We found that for some categories – like retail – it can be disruptive to the point of transforming traditional sales channels. For others - like automotive, hospitality and real estate - it gives brands added persuasive power, proximity and convenience, beyond what traditional marketing channels can achieve. But not every vertical, and not every company, will benefit from VR.

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Top Trends For CRM In 2017 - It's All About Differentiated (Digital) Experiences

Kate Leggett

We’re firmly in the age of the customer, where customers - not executives - decide how customer-centric their companies are. And while good customer experiences can help control costs, executives are more interested in their potential to fuel sustainable top-line growth.

Forrester defines CRM as:

The business processes and supporting technologies that support the key activities of targeting, acquiring, retaining, understanding, and collaborating with customers.

CRM is the foundational building block of a company's customer experience strategy to win, serve, and retain customers. It enables new business strategies, integrates to many technologies and is constantly rejuvenated by new trends. Here are 4 of the 10 trends that we see in CRM in 2017.

Customers want to easily connect with, interact with, make purchases from, or get service from a company.  For example, 72% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing that a company can do to provide them with good service. Companies must offer customers ways to easily engage with them to foster an ongoing omnichannel dialogue and relationship that strengthen loyalty and retention. And they will reap the rewards: Omnichannel customers are more active, spend more, and are less expensive to support than single-channel customers.

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The Emotional Roller Coaster Of Super Bowl LI

Juan Salazar

Many are calling Super Bowl LI the greatest and most exciting Super Bowl ever, as the New England Patriots came roaring back to accomplish one of the largest comebacks in NFL history. For the fans involved, it was a whirlwind of emotions, and they readily took to social media to express them. To get a better sense of these fan emotions, we analyzed Twitter feeds from Massachusetts and from Georgia, captured during the game with a new cutting-edge emotion algorithm developed at Forrester. The results of our analysis paint a clear picture of two very different roller coaster rides. Atlanta Falcons fans went from the joy of a sure win to the disgust and sadness of having victory snatched from their hands — quite literally, considering Julian Edelman’s ridiculous catch with just over 2 minutes left. Patriots fans, on the other hand, quickly regained the sense of anticipation they had felt when beginning the game as the favorites (perfectly inverted with their sense of disgust, which peaked when their team was down 25 points), culminating in a combination of surprise and joy at pulling off such an improbable comeback.

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It’s Time To Take Flight With Social Selling

Caroline Robertson

The logistics of business travel can be nightmarish, especially when productivity is most crucial, which is business as usual for today’s business-to-business (B2B) sellers. On the surface, million-mile platinum status is evidence of rock-star sellers who are willing to jump on a plane at a moment’s notice to build new and enrich existing relationships on behalf of their firm. But what about when prospects and customers don’t want to see you?

Whether it’s increasing workloads, the ability to be more efficient by participating in remote meetings, or the fact that buyers prefer to self-educate in the early phases of the evaluation process, today’s B2B buyers are less inclined to take sales meetings. Many don’t want to engage directly with sellers until they are further along with their own self-discovery. And when they do, expectations are high for sellers to show up in an advisory capacity and provide consultative expertise.

How then can you be present as a recognized expert with prospects and customers who want to spend less time with you? Mary Shea’s newest report, “Add Social Selling To Your B2B Marketing Repertoire,” explains how B2B sellers who add social selling activities to their daily routine can do this — and much more.

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Forrester’s First CPQ Wave Addresses The Tech Needs Of The Empowered Buyer

John Bruno

If you’re in a B2B environment, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the changing behaviors of your customers in recent years. As a result, technologies have shifted their focus to get closer to the customer and I'm not talking about just CRM or SFA. With a flurry of acquisitions and new entrants to the CPQ market popping up regularly, we decided to tighten the aperture and evaluate the top 11 CPQ vendors in The Forrester Wave™: Configure-Price-Quote Solutions, Q1 2017. These vendors do the most to address the rising, empowered B2B buyer. Below are some of the key findings from the report:

  • Customer and buyer experiences become a priority. CPQ is not about engineers. It’s not even about sellers anymore. CPQ is about the customer, and in this case that means both the end buyer of your products and the customers of your technology (indirect channels selling on your behalf) expect easy and effective interactions. CPQ is now a key enabler to delivering a high quality customer experience.

  • CPQ has no channel limitations. CPQ is not, I repeat, is not a back office solution anymore. It’s long addressed the needs of front line sales reps, and now it extends its functionality to all available channels. This means companies can extend the same business rules and logic to indirect channels (i.e. partners, dealers, distributors, etc.), customer service reps, eCommerce sites, and even emerging channels like IoT devices.

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The Predictive Power of Early Morning App Usage

Juan Salazar

Hello! As a new data science analyst at Forrester, I am thrilled to lead analysis of and insights from Forrester’s Mobile Audience Data (MAD). Although my expertise covers most areas of data science, I have a distinct passion for network and text analytics and custom algorithms that unlock the stories behind the data. I most recently worked in the multilateral development space, where I used data science to map the connections of internal and external communications in order to help guide country and sector strategies. I am incredibly excited to use the power and creativity of data science with our clients at Forrester.

My first report analyzes consumers’ reliance on smartphones in their daily routines. Look back over your past week or, better yet, your past month. Can you remember a single morning when you did not look at your smartphone during the first few minutes after waking up? I can’t. Smartphones’ omnipresence in our morning routines means that we can learn a lot from our use of our mobile devices during these early hours of the day. Because we are creatures of habit, we tend to access the same apps and websites in the morning, day in and day out.

For example, look at the most popular apps that US consumers access first thing in the morning. The most-used apps allow consumers to wake up and check on their social lives: 15% of the time, US consumers wake up and check their email. In fact, the clock, email, messaging, and Facebook account for 40% of all early-morning device behaviors.

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I'm Starting An Insight Platforms-as-a-service Wave - Who Should Be Included?

Brian  Hopkins

Technology buyers have made it clear to us they want platforms for building data analytics applications. I call these insight platforms, and they were the No. 1 emerging technology of interest for enterprise architects in 2016.  Understanding why is easy — insight platforms provide a common toolset and a place to run what you have built. They accelerate both time-to-value and agility, which are crucially important for keeping up with markets and customers. See Tame The Beast: Forrester's Insight Platform Vendor Landscape and Want To Create Action From Big Data? Look At Enterprise Insight Platform Suites for more information.

Since using more public cloud is the No .1 big data priority, according to our 2016 survey of 3,000+ data and analytics decision makers, Insight Platforms-as-a-Service are next on my Forrester Wave™ agenda. We define Insight Platforms-as-a-service at multitenant platform-as-a-service cloud offerings that include tools for data management, several types of analytics and technology that help firms operationalize insight in other software and processes.

I already know the biggest players - Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle - but I’m also looking for other providers who want to give them a run for their money. Who else I should look at? For example, should I include:

  • Business service providers like FICO? They can lay claim to having an insight PaaS, and they definitely want a piece of Amazon’s cloud business.
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Turn Supply chain analytics to your Moneyball

Phoenix Zhang

I watched Moneyball over the weekend for the first time, and I really enjoyed it. As a nerd, I love all movies that demonstrate the power of mathematics and analytics (On top of that, Brad Pitt did a fine job).

But while everyone loves the of using statistical insight to overturn old ideas and revolutionize baseball, but why are supply chain managers reluctant to apply similar winning concepts? According to a Forrester Business Technographics Survey, only 27% of supply chain management professionals and 22% of logistics and distribution professionals are using or plan to use big data analytics or plan to. At Forrester, I frequently discuss supply chain analytics with clients and how to leverage supply chain insights to drive business growth or improve operation efficiency. Everyone knows analytics is important, but there are still plenty of myths related to what to measure, what tools to use, and what types of analytics to apply. I’d like to briefly summarize my thoughts on these three topics:

  • Focus on a few key measurements that matters the most. Don’t go down the rabbit hole of measuring everything in multiple ways. It wastes time and effort — and most importantly, it causes confusion. Define a few key performance indicators (KPIs) that accurately measure your top business priorities and stick to them. Your KPI could be perfect order percentage, on-time delivery, or perhaps percentage on base. Data will never be perfectly clean, but you need meaningful analytics, so clean it up as much as you can and establish an ongoing master program for data maintenance.
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The Business Case For Digital Transformation

Dan Bieler

Photo: Rebecca Minkoff

Digital transformation investments are ultimately about business survival through disruption. Such investments have a direct impact on customer expectations and go beyond the traditional ROI. The business case for such disruptive investments is the focus of the report, Build Your Digital Transformation Business Case Around The Customer And Revenue Growth. The scope for disruption spans the entire customer life cycle, affecting everything from the supply chain to after-sales support. The key takeaways from this report:

  • Disruptive transformation must be viewed as a strategic investment. The real value of digital transformation investments relates to long-term revenue growth, not short-term technology ROI. Bolt-on digital projects do not change the fundamental value relationship that you have with your customer. To maximize the impact of digital investments, business and technology leaders must learn to value such investments through the eyes of the company’s customers.
  • A classic ROI calculation is neither always feasible nor desirable for digital investments. Digital transformation changes business processes and models. ROI works for single digital initiatives, but not for shifts in business models. Digital investments aimed at disruptive change across the enterprise challenge traditional ROI calculations. Attributing benefits like customer satisfaction, group productivity, and group revenues — let alone business survival — to a single digital investment is impossible because so much of the impact of digital transformation is cumulative.
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Super Bowl LI: Lackluster Brand Promises, Inspiring Values

Jim Nail

Out of a generally uninspiring batch of ads this year, one trend stood out: brands using the largest ad platform in the US to align their brand with social and political values that generally are thought to have no place in the bottom-line world of driving quarterly business results. Social media listening firm Talkwalker notes that 5 of the top 10 most talked about ads have a social or political theme and generated strong positive sentiment: Budweiser, Audi, Coca-Cola, 84 Lumber, and AirBnB.

Not all ads attempting to align a brand with societal values were successful: Audi’s attempt to take a stand on gender pay equity lacked a credible connection to this testosterone-fueled luxury car. And, of course, taking a stand risks alienating consumers who disagree. Since Budweiser’s “Born the Hard Way” ad was originally conceived long before the election, I’m not convinced they were trying to make a statement about immigration policy. But it is certainly being seen in that tone and has brought out a fair share of trolls commenting on YouTube.

These brands are acknowledging that the idea that “the business of business is business” is changing. Along with my colleagues Henry Peyret, Brigitte Majewski, Alex Cullen and Drew Green, I have been exploring the changing nature of how consumers incorporate these broader values into their brand decisions. Stay tuned for the report but our research tells us 3 things a brand must do to walk this delicate line in today’s polarized environment.

  • Carefully consider where your brand should be on what Carol Cone calls “The Purpose Spectrum”
  • Be authentic and back up the words with tangible commitments
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