Something's bugging me: Increasingly, I hear marketers using the words "community" and "network" interchangeably.
But a community is just one type of network. My working definition of network is: a group of people who have something in common and who have a motivation for connecting. For example, a bunch of people who all buy the same brand of toilet paper, but have no desire to meet, are not a network. Another type of network is a mob (commonality: enraged about something, motivation for connecting: aggregate power to use against something). Yet another type of network is a clique. It's not all warm and fuzzy.
It's easy to recognize different types of connected groups offline. But as marketers wade into the less familiar universe of social computing, a lot of people assume that any type of online network associated with their brand is an online community.
What other types of online networks are there? Using the working definition above, I'm going to take a rough crack at teasing out some distinctions:
B2B marketers: RainToday.com asked me to participate in authoring an ebook about the one piece of advice marketers simply cannot generate leads without.
This 36-page report was published today and includes advice from not only yours truly, but also Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, Suzanne Lowe, author of Marketplace Masters - How Professional Services Firms Compete to Win, and Ardath Albee, B2B Marketing Strategist, Marketing Interactions (with whom I've played blog-tag previously.)
I'm right in the middle of researching Forrester's Interactive Marketing Forecast -- our big sizing report which forecasts spending in different interactive channels five years into the future. In addition to leveraging a quantitative study of marketers (which some of you helped with -- thanks!), I'm also conducting a series of interviews with media providers, vendors, agencies and interactive marketing experts to help me prioritize trends and build out an accurate market sizing.
Last week as part of my research I spoke to Jim Nail, ex-Forrester analyst and current CMO of TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony and Jeff Lanctot, VP of Media and Client Services for Avenue A/Razorfish. Both independently mentioned a key theme defining the future of interactive marketing which I've been noodling on since my conversations with them. I'm paraphrasing a bit, but the theme is that of immersive marketing -- that is the idea of creating marketing programs that:
Create a cohesive and all-encompassing experience across any channel where the customer is.
I field a lot of questions from folks around why there are so few 3G subscribers in the States, why the carriers "took so long" to build out 3G networks, etc. I think people forget sometimes that most people have pretty basic phones and 30-40 percent of people just talk on them.
Here are a few comments/questions from people here in SF from just the last 24 hours. They are a range of ages.
(Was out with friends celebrating a 40th birthday party so there were a lot of digital cameras in the bar). I was showing someone photos on my N95. The woman (Dominique - in her late thirties, I think) said:
"Wow, you have a really nice camera. That display is amazing. I need to get a camera like that." Of course, my reply was, "oh, this isn't my camera (well I use it as a camera also), this is my phone." At that point, her jaw dropped and she was speechless. Of course, everyone wanted to check out the iPhone next - the display blew them away along with many other features, but it didn't look and act like a camera so much so the "wow" effect of "that's a phone?" ... it was there, but in a different way."
Here’s a question that crops up more and more frequently. Forrester B2B marketing clients want to know “What are the average conversion rates for leads to opportunities and opportunities to sales in......?” You can fill in the blank with:
Industry: high tech, financial services, healthcare etc. Tactic: email marketing, paid search placement, direct mail postcards, etc. Size: small businesses, enterprises, firms over $250M in revenue, etc. Product type: durable, consumer, high technology, software, etc. Channel: direct sales, telesales, distributors, resellers, etc.
And create a tremendous array of opportunities to research. Opportunities so vast it boggles my mind, and makes me wonder how Forrester might provide this kind of information on a reliable, relevant basis at minimum cost to ourselves and our clients.
In the spirit of exploring this dilemma further, I’d like to hear from our blog readers – B2B in particular – on these two questions:
1) What specific sources of information have you found for these types of benchmarks? (Go ahead and mention competitors, you won’t hurt my feelings…) And how detailed, or reliable, do these sources need to be?
If you're a web 2.0 technology vendor who might be interested in an in-person briefing day at Forrester, read on...
Forrester cordially invites you to the Web 2.0 Briefing Day on October 23, 2007!
What is it? A complimentary event that gives you the opportunity to brief leading Forrester analysts who focus on Web 2.0 trends and technologies. The day will take place in Forrester's Cambridge office.
How does it work?
Meet Sheri McLeish, Vendor Relations Manager.
Engage with up to three analysts in 1-to-1 briefings.
Learn about Forrester’s perspective on the size of the Web 2.0 market with a presentation by analyst G. Oliver Young.
The time has come for me to leave Forrester and pursue other adventures. The last five years have been phenomenal. My fellow analysts, my teammates, and the clients I work with have all inspired me to reach outside my core competencies, extend my thinking, and develop new strengths.
This is an incredibly exciting time in the world of marketing and I look forward to figuring out my next steps. After I get the kids back to school I plan to do some independent work for a while as I meet lots of companies and weigh permanent options. Ultimately, I expect to connect with a strong team that shares my ideas and ideals to deliver products and services that addresses key challenges that marketers face head on. My passion is data-driven (and customer-focused) marketing -- I never could pick the easy path -- and my goal is to make it work.
We've just published a new report titled Marketing's New Key Metric: Engagement.
The link is here. [UPDATE 8/13, 2pm (Eastern): This link redirects to a page on the Forrester Web site which includes the executive summary. The full report is accessible to Forrester clients.]
The premise behind the report is that the center of the marketing funnel (consideration and preference) is more complex than many like to believe. This complexity is largely influenced by people's changing behaviors online, fueled by social computing.
As a result, marketers need to focus on engagement. In the report, we define engagement as:
Engagement is the level of involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence an individual has with a brand over time.
The four components of engagement are:
Involvement—Includes web analytics like site traffic, page views, time spent, etc. This essentially is the component that measures if a person is present.
Interaction—This component addresses the more robust actions people take, such as buying a product, requesting a catalog, signing up for an email, posting a comment on a blog, uploading a photo or video, etc. These metrics come from e-commerce or social media platforms.
AdMob announced today that they have reached the milestone of serving more than one billion ads per month. Wow! Over 500 million of these ads alone are served up in the US.
Granted, those are not any near our online numbers, but it's an impressive milestone. By our estimates, only a minority of cell phone owners browse the web on their phone (though certainly more will do so with handsets like the iPhone and the N95 from Nokia), and a small percentage of those do so frequently (i.e., daily/weekly). Monthly per user page views on cell phones don't add up to daily numbers for most of us.
It's an impressive number. It's also impressive to see the growth that ad networks like Admob and Third Screen are experiencing. I think lack of inventory has been one of the primary inhibitors to growth of mobile display ads. This will continue to be an exciting space to watch.
For more on mobile ad networks, see this report from my colleague Neil Strother.