Understanding Contact Optimization Technology

Yesterday was a banner day for me in my young career as a Forrester analyst - my first research piece was published. It's a marketing technology brief titled "Understanding Contact Optimization technology." So what is contact optimization? We define it as a mathematical approach to determining the best mix of messages for each customer in order to maximize marketing objectives while satisfying business constraints. Put simply - this technology is for high volume direct marketers intent on transforming themselves from a product centric organization to one that emphasizes customer need.

Here is the executive summary -

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Are Online Ads Ever Desirable?

The theme for Forrester’s upcoming Consumer Forum is “Humanizing The Digital Experience.” What makes a digital experience more human? First, it must be useful. Second, it must be usable to the point that the technology fades into the background. Finally, the best digital experiences are desirable enough to stimulate action (e.g. buying a product, or telling a friend about the experience).

After years of clumsy and cold web sites, examples of desirable experiences are starting to pop up everywhere. Witness MySpace.com and NASCAR’s PitCommand (a mobile application in which fans can track in real-time the speed, RPM, throttle, position, and time of their favorite driver). These are great, but can every online experience be desirable? What about when a company is trying to sell you something?

Is there such thing as a desirable banner ad?

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What makes a good interactive marketing organization?

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I'm answering this question in a research piece scheduled for me right after I finish my Wave on search marketing agencies.  And am currently in the process of surveying interactive marketers about what works well/not so well about how your teams are structured. 

So here’s your chance to take part in Forrester’s ground-breaking research!  We maintain an active panel of interactive marketers, but we’re always looking for fresh voices.  If you’re an interactive marketer or know someone who might be interested in our work, you can access the link to our survey below:

http://www.gmi-mr.com/survey/s.phtml?sn=56456

Should B2B Marketers Blog?

Along with podcasts and RSS feeds, blogs are showing up on business marketers’ radar. Of the 210 B2B marketers who told us that they use these emerging tactics today, over 70% said they planned to boost their spending on social computing tactics during the next 12 months. But just because firms like Boeing, HP, NetApp, Sun, and Unica have entered the blogosphere, does that mean every marketing executive should as well? My answer today is a qualified “Perhaps.”

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Brand Monitoring Wave :: Live

Wave_2
Forrester's Brand Monitoring Wave for Q3 2006 is now live!

Q:  What is Brand Monitoring?
A:  The ongoing analysis of mainstream media and consumer-generated
content to identify trends relevant to a company's marketing activities
and competitive landscape.

Q:  Why does Brand Monitoring matter?
A:  The power shift from media institutions to consumer communities means
that marketers must track a diverse and growing range of influential
voices.

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Customer Centricity: Strategy vs. Tactics

Eric Kintz has hit on a key point regarding customer-centric marketing, with the phrase "dissociative identity marketing."  Eric calls on marketers to recognize that customers are consumers too, following different personas in different media.  Seems that marketers would be wise to follow some advice from T.S. Eliot as well: "prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet."

For me, the distinction here is strategy vs. tactics.  Customer-centricity is a strategy that requires the use of both short- and long-term tactics. Long term: reinventing your marketing organization, which enables dissociative identity marketing.  Short term:  using social computing tactics to reach the personas as identified.

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Social Search: Can Baynote Hit A Chord With B2B Marketers?

You already know that prior to joining Forrester, I worked in the information retrieval industry and will forevermore be fascinated and frustrated by search. B2B marketers face unique search challenges, not only to select the best keywords and improve on organic rankings, but also to direct buyers to the information they need to make decisions and move closer to a purchase.  In recent research, we found business marketers don’t use microsites and landing pages to guide paid clickers to the relevant information. Of the 86 unique ads we reviewed, only about a quarter took buyers to pages custom-designed for a paid search campaign and neither dedicated pages nor general ones provided keyword-related content consistently. Why do B2B marketers struggle here and can technology help?

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What do you look for when selecting a search marketing partner?

I'm right in the middle of evaluating vendors for Forrester's Wave on search marketing agencies and I'm finding (no surprise, really) that these providers offer very similar services.  There are certainly some place of differentiation (like the amount of consumer research a vendor conducts to understand your target audience).  But in terms of the basics (keyword selection, bid opimization), vendors look a lot alike. 

So, as I wade through the details of each vendor, I'm hoping you all will weigh in on what selection criteria is most important to you when you are looking for a search partner.  Does it matter if the vendor has its own bid management technology?  Are you only interested if they have experience in your industry?  Is SEO or paid search more important?  Would you sacrifice customer service for in-depth conversion tracking?  Let me know what the most important factors are to you.  I'll be using your feedback to help me weight my evaluation criteria.  Thanks!