Platform Support for m-Commerce Continues To Build Momentum

With Roy Rubin’s tweet today, we have one more example of an eCommerce platform working to make mobile commerce (mCommerce) an easy next step for their clients. The list continues to grow and includes platform providers such as ATG, IBM Websphere Commerce, Fry, Marketlive, Demandware, Escalate Retail, hybris, Intershop, and now Magento. In some cases this is being done natively within the application via the mobile web leveraging browser detection and CSS, in some cases through partnerships with third parties, and in some cases through services which enable mobile applications. Many other platform solution providers I have a chance to work with are not far behind, and are working hard on this. (Some of whom I am bound to hear from as soon as I hit “publish” with this post). But a key question is:


What are some key things to look for when evaluating this piece of the commerce solution portfolio?

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The Times' Paywall - Can It Work?

(please note you can listen to an audio blog post on this theme by clicking the link below)

So here we go. A paywall it is. After much speculation, we learn that News Corporation’s two flagship titles in the UK, The Times and The Sunday Times, are to start charging users to access online content from June. No freebies, no tiered access models, just a paywall. And the price, at £1 per day, is the same as the cover price of the print edition.

The Times.co.uk (note, not Times Online, its current moniker) is primarily intended, it seems, to add value to the core product, the print newspaper. Of course the risk Murdoch’s team is taking is in sacrificing scale for an untested revenue model. What kind of conversion rate would make this viable? There are few precedents, though in the gaming world, a paid conversion rate of 2% would be considered successful. And even the Financial Times, the self-styled pin-up boys of the paywall, have found that only around 121k of the 1.9m who have registered for the site, are paying subscribers. That’s just 6.4% of registered FT.com users paying for content which helps them do their job, and which they often expense anyway. What chance for a generalist title competing with free rivals?

Even assuming a 5% conversion rate, that would mean 60k from a daily online readership of around 1.2m (according to the ABCe figures). Factor in that around two-thirds of the readership are outside the UK, and advertisers locally will be left with a readership of around 20k. Advertisers may say they value engagement over scale, but will they actually come on board? Even if current revenues are disappointing, they are going to be hit hard by such a diminution of scale. And the costs of delivering a high quality website will still need to be met.

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The Social Intelligence Teleconference

Over the last few weeks I've been busy talking to clients about my recent research on Social Intelligence - the strategy of using social media data to drive actionable marketing and business insight. It seems that this topic sparked a lot of interest with most marketers and Customer Intelligence professionals out there because, and I'll put this relatively lightly, managing the rapidly expanding vastness of social media data is an overwhelming challenge.

Many marketers I've talked to share the similar pain of trying to "keep up" with so much online conversation, but there's also a crowd that's starting to use all of this conversation to generate rich insights around their customers and brands. But how? Social media can generate a lot of action, both reactive and proactive - it's all in how you look at it and the goals and strategy you create.

This morning at 11am Eastern, I'm leading a teleconference on this subject titled "Driving Customer Insight With Social Media Data" during which I'll talk about the challenges, risks, and (more importantly) opportunities found within social media data. I'll highlight the many different potential uses for social media data and talk about some of the vendors that make this all possible. The teleconference is for Forrester clients only, but after it's finished I'd like to use the comments section here to keep the discussion going and open it up to the public. I hope you can join me for the call, but if not - please join the discussion back here afterwards.

The Data Digest: Which Devices Have People Connected To Their TV

About 40% of US online adults now have a home theater audio system connected to their TVs, providing a better sound experience than the typical speakers connected to a PC or those built into a boom box. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that US consumers who have home theater systems take home entertainment seriously; they have a variety of entertainment devices, including set-top boxes, connected to their TVs.

 

More information can be found in the report 'Audio In The Home Is A Feature, Not A Device Category'.

Setting Up The Marketing Concierge

By Peter O'Neill

Several of my recent client engagements have been about the social media skills/resources that will be required in field marketing in the next years. While this is something I am already working on with an empirical survey, that will take more time to complete, so watch this space for those details. Here are my initial thoughts, tested with several tech marketing practitioners already.

Firstly, my stake in the ground — I think Field Marketing’s focus will morph from customer acquisition to relationship management, from demand generation to demand management; it will be all about lead nurturing.

We’ll need to reduce our base of pure marketing professionals (events/marcom people), by automating and semi-centralizing (from country to regional level) marketing campaign management. And we’ll need to increase local resources to engage with local bloggers, communities, prospects, and customers. This will include a mix of hiring expert people (strong consultative sales reps looking for an easier time, experienced support people, current product champion field marketers) and leveraging local journalistic resources. More importantly, we will also need to re-engineer our collateral to a marketing asset library of shorter and more direct, but less hard-selling, pieces that we can leverage into the lead-nurturing programs.

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How Do You Innovate Marketing?

As a follow up to my post yesterday about where marketers focus their marketing innovation efforts, I'd love to hear more from you.  Of course, you can take my quick poll.  Or, if you'd really like to help my research - and are a CMO, VP of marketing or other senior marketer - please spend a few more minutes participating in our panel survey about marketing innovation.  You can find that here.

To thank you for your time, we'll share the panel results with you and you can see how your organization compares to others. 

I appreciate your insights.

Microsoft Announces Plans For A Better Bing

Today at SES in New York, Microsoft announced some further refinements to its Bing search engine.  MS will flight the following changes to users over the next several weeks:

  • Top rail navigation will go tabular – in response to positive use of the category navigation along the left hand side of Bing, MS is also going to adjust the top rail of the search results to include tabs that will allow for drill down into categories of content related to the user’s search.  Left rail and top rail categories will vary according to the search.  See below for an example:

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Intuit Financial Services Plans Unique Cross-Sell Targeting Tool

Met today with the folks at Inuit Financial Services (formally Digital Insight) - a online banking platform vendor. The purpose of the call was to discuss an upcoming document around cross-selling financial products on the Web that I am in the process of writing. During the discussion, they highlighted an exciting new cross-sell targeting engine that will be available this Summer to their FinanceWorks' clients.

 

FinanceWorks is IFS's online personal financial management suite of services. One features of that service is the ability to aggregate accounts from different providers into a single account view. Why this is an interesting cross-sell opportunity is that this Summer IFS will offer a ad targeting engine that will allow its clients to target cross-sell messages based on EXTERNAL owned accounts. Let me give you an example.

 

Let's say a customer of a ABC bank aggregates their American Express credit card within FinanceWorks. ABC bank can set up a rule such that if a customer doesn't have a credit card with them, has a credit card with an another provider (e. g. AMEX) and that competitor card has an APR of more than 12%; they can target a message to the customer highlighting ABC bank's credit card and rate (a rate they KNOW will be less than what they have on their AMEX card). Offers can also be targeted based on the balances of external accounts.

 

What is particularly exciting is that most of this type of analysis in the past would have had to happen offline, but with IFS's new targeting engine, those decisions are both intelligent and dynamic.

 

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Learn To Set Your MROC Up For Success

Recently, I’ve been having conversations with clients who know they want to start up their own market research online communities (MROCs) and know what they want to learn through this kind of research, but they are overwhelmed with where to start. For a lot of market researchers who are dipping their toes into using private communities for research, this is a common pain. Anxiety can easily creep into the MROC ramp-up process when it comes to vendor selection, recruiting, research planning, and reporting – to name a few. And, although many vendors and conferences provide case studies on how MROCs have delivered amazing results, it’s hard to find client case studies around the do’s and don’ts of building one successfully.

I’ve presented and written around this very topic in the past, but for Forrester’s Marketing Forum in LA this April, I wanted our audience to hear from the ”frontlines” of companies who have actually been through this process themselves. If you are trying to navigate the ins and outs of community research, please join me in LA on April 23 for a panel discussion, entitled “Elevating Market Research Through Real-Time Community Insights.” I’ll be leading the conversation with three well-known brands as they talk about their challenges and successes with integrating MROCs into their insights processes. Each of the panelists uses different vendors and they come from distinct company cultures, so I anticipate a very informative 45 minutes.  

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How far does your marketing innovation go?

Carrying on on the topic of innovation seemed rather right for trying out (rather belatedly) our new blogging platform.  I've had interesting discussions with some of you recently about innovation and am both writing a report and creating a track session for our Marketing Forum in LA next month about how CMOs can/should plan for marketing evolution. 

Where do you most focus your marketing innovation efforts today?  Take my poll to the right as to where your marketing organization invests its resources.

Many marketers I've connected with spend most of their 'innovation time' and resources trying to figure out new media channels - social, mobile and still, digital.  We do tend to think most about Promotion.  But what about the other parts of the marketing mix? 

Have you innovated in Place?  Procter & Gamble has made online D2C sales a hot subject in the last months.  Beyond e-commerce, have you rethought where your products are actually sold?

And what about the Products themselves?  M&Ms lets people personalize the classic candy with their own words and photos.  Has your marketing team used technology and customer proximity to change - even slightly - what you sell? 

And the last P.  Have you thought about Pricing innovation?  I'm constantly annoyed at getting a worse deal from my mobile phone and cable providers than new customers coming in.  Oh, and you can add magazine subscriptions to that stack.  Beyond offers, when was the last time you rewrote your rules around pricing and introduced some novelty? 

I look forward to your comments and thoughts.  Have you seen interesting experiments in the market?  Or are you working through some ideas yourself?

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