Twitter And My Spring 2010 Schedule

I was traveling for the past couple weeks in the United Kingdom to meet with clients.  Following a set of very successful meetings I ran into a bit of trouble.  Just as I was planning to return home a volcano in Iceland erupted and brought air travel in Europe to a standing halt.  I had to spend an additional 6 days in London. I never thought I would utter that combination of words, it just goes to show that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

(picture credited to AP Photo/Icelandic Coast Guard)

All things considered I can't complain too much.  Obviously it is never fun to have travel plans disrupted or to be away from family longer than anticipated.  But there are far worse places to be stranded than London!  It's a wonderful city.  And I have many clients, colleagues and friends there, so I kept quite busy, and was able to work from Forrester's London office while awaiting the green light to come home.  About a dozen Forrester employees were in a similar situation, and the company did a great job of making sure we were ok and provided much needed support; I'm sure many travelers were not so fortunate.

It is interesting how the web became my constant companion as I made my best efforts to stay productive during the crisis and find my way home.  I frequented the travel websites (American Airlines, Marriott), the UK and EU air transport authorities (NATS), news sites (BBC and Sky), and most of all Twitter (#ashtag) to stay up to date on the volcano news and ensure that I had a place to sleep every night, and a seat reserved on the earliest flight home.  Turning to Twitter for real-time, crowdsourced news was a real revelation: they often scooped the big news websites; and it provided a sense of community, a lot of us were stuck in this mess together!

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Who’s your Chechu Rubiera?

Lance Armstrong is one of the most recognized athletes on the planet. He’s a cancer survivor and the only person to have ever won 7 Tours de France. But, have you ever heard of Chechu Rubiera? He’s a pretty accomplished professional bike rider too. He has won stages of the Giro d’Italia and team stages in the Tour de France. He has finished in the top 10 in both the Giro and the Vuelta a Espana.

But something else you may not know about Rubiera is that he was on Lance Armstrong’s team when Armstrong won 5 of his 7 Tours. Cycling is an odd sport. I’m an addict. I can watch several hours of guys on bikes riding up and down mountains. Maybe cycling fans are odd too… But what’s amazing and I think unique about cycling is that although one guy gets a victory – wins a stage or a grueling three week race - they can’t do it on their own. Their team is crucial to their victory. The team shields them from the wind, paces them up the hills, protects them from the hustle and bustle within the peloton, fetches food and water, and generally buries themselves in the hope that the team leader can get the win.

What does this have to do with Customer Intelligence? Not much, actually. This post is personal.

Yesterday, I completed my first Forrester Forum Keynote at our Marketing Forum in Los Angeles. That was about Customer Intelligence. The feedback has been amazing – and extremely humbling. I’ve been overwhelmed by the emails, text messages, and tweets complimenting the speech. To all of you that commented, Thank You! I’m delighted to have been able to spend time educating so many people about the role of Customer Intelligence, and how it can make marketing and businesses more successful.

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Cross-channel campaign management trends

We surveyed over 150 marketers and customer intelligence professionals on their use of campaign management solutions. I just published our findings from this study in a report focused on trends in cross-channel campaign management. While some of the findings were not a surprise, the study revealed many interesting data points that are worth revisiting. Some of the key trends the study revealed were:

  1. Marketers focus on longer term relationships - over 40% have stayed with the same provider for more than 3 years.
  2. Marketers use a few key channels like email (84%), direct mail (66%), and web site (55%)
  3. Integration capabilities and costs as the key selection drivers when it comes to cross channel campaign management solutions.

Some of the more surprising data points include:

  1. Despite the renewed focus on retention, few marketers can claim to be skilled at managing customer churn.
  2. While the majority of the respondents were not net promoters, few were actually inclined to switch providers. Why not? High switching costs and tight integration with vendor solutions make it hard for marketers to unravel existing implementations.
  3. Marketer satisfaction and dissatisfaction is hard to pin down. Marketers were all over the map on their thoughts about their solutions. Broadly, the highest levels of dissatisfaction were with contact optimization, online/offline integration as well as inbound/outbound integration.

If you are marketing practitioners using a cross channel campaign management solution, I would love to hear your thoughts on your solution.

Add Ratings And Reviews To Your Social Intelligence Strategy

When you think of “social media data,” what channels do you include? When I talk to marketers tasked with managing information on the social web, they usually talk about Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums, comments, and probably a bit more. But there  a set of channels commonly missing from this list: ratings and reviews. Most consumer brands have product pages on their website that ask customers for ratings or reviews. Even though these sections create a rich pool of consumer generated content, marketers often treat ratings and reviews as a separate set of data.

That’s why I was interested to see today’s announcement of a partnership between Nielsen and Bazaarvoice. This partnership gives Nielsen the ability to feed Bazaarvoice’s on-site ratings and reviews into its My BuzzMetrics dashboards, integrating the customer feedback channels into the larger scope of social media data. This connection of data sources provides access to a deeper view customers’ opinions — both prompted and unprompted. Earlier this week I chatted with Bazaarvoice's co-founder, Brant Barton about the integration of data sources. He, like I, see this as a natural fit and told me that more and more of his customers have asked for this offering.

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Web Analytics Will Emerge As A Cornerstone Of Customer Intelligence

Last week I hit a major personal milestone.  My first report as a Forrester analyst went live!

As thrilling as this is for me, I hope it will be even more exciting for Customer Intelligence professionals.

The report is titled How Web Analytics will Emerge As A Cornerstone of Customer Intelligence, and is based on the premise that the web is the common demoninator for customer experiences and that this information can be harnessed and subsequently applied throughout the enteprise. This report outlines the future trajectory of Web analytics technology and gives CI professionals pragmatic advice about how to use that technology as a foundational component for customer intelligence that fuels multichannel marketing effectiveness.

Marketers today have a dizzying array of online and offline touchpoints at their disposal, but without a doubt all roads lead through the Web. For most organizations, Web sites, microsites, landing pages, communities, and other interactive properties are mission-critical for acquiring, retaining, and nurturing customers and other target audiences. By definition this reality makes the Web one of the most crucial sources of insight for Customer Intelligence (CI) professionals. To put that insight into action, firms must leverage Web analytics beyond isolated Web site marketing and operations to feed analysis, decision support, and execution for the entire marketing function.

I believe that Web analytics will extend beyond the Web site in two phases. 

First - Web analytics platforms will cement their position as the nucleus of online measurement by continuing their current diversification efforts to extend beyond core Web analytics capabilities.

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The Race Is On For Selling MROCs To Agencies

On Tuesday, Passenger announced that it is officially selling into agencies in the digital marketing and market research space. Here are some quick reactions on what this means:

First, this puts it in competition with other vendors (such MarketTools, Vovici, Globalpark) that will also sell into agencies and have a proprietary platform that they can decouple from their services.

Why would Passenger announce this as an explicit strategy? I can tell you from the calls I have with agencies that they see MROCs as a value-add to clients they are working with on social media or research. Also, community services (planning, ongoing management, facilitation, reporting) are the most expensive part of the equation, and it’s likely that many of the agencies that Passenger sells to either already have some services capabilities or will be willing to take more of them on at some point. This move meets a market need and diversifies Passenger's business channels with a potentially higher-margin offering.

Second, this announcement got me thinking about where the market for MROCs is headed, and I’ve got three main ideas:

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