Q&Agency: Universal Mind

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I get to talk to agencies small and large and get to hear (in their words) what differentiates them and the experiences they create. To help bring some of that information to you, I'm showcasing an ongoing series of interviews with small to mid-size interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On May 18th, I talked with Brett Cortese, CEO, and Erik Loehfelm, Director of User Experience, of Universal Mind. Edited excerps from that conversation follow.

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about your agency?

Brett: Universal Mind is an award winning digital solutions agency. We work with our clients to create best in class solutions that deliver an exceptional user experience while overcoming complex technical challenges across a wide variety of devices. That’s going to include the browser, desktop, tablet, connected appliances, all those types of things. Our focus is on the enterprise; we have a very deep understanding of how to expose complex systems and processes in an engaging and effective way.

We have a team of over 100 strong, spread out through the United States. That includes offices in San Francisco, California; Golden, Colorado; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Westfield, Massachusetts.

Forrester: What is your elevator pitch?

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Privacy Concerns Threaten Emerging Interest In Banking On Social Sites

Facebook’s recent bad press regarding privacy changes on their site and reported leaks of customer information contribute to a growing concern among users. The uproar also underscores what Forrester and our clients have known for years about security and privacy online: they are the bedrock on which solid online (and mobile) customer relationships are built. Nowhere is this more important than with financial services customers.

It comes as no surprise, then, that 71% of online consumers surveyed by Forrester say they have little to no interest in accessing their bank accounts through social networking sites like Facebook. What is the number one reason why? Security concerns. Number two? Privacy concerns. Seems like FarmVille and financial services just don’t mix. Perhaps more surprising, though, is the 17% of respondents who say they are interested in accessing their bank accounts via social nets.

The real question is how interested are these consumers’ financial institutions in offering account access through Facebook and other social networking sites? As financial firms today look for every opportunity, in every channel, to deepen their relationship with their customers, it’s hard to ignore a community with a 30-day active population of more than 400 million users, 50% of whom visit on any given day.

As financial institutions begin to look more carefully at how to tap into consumers' enormous interest in social networking sites to better service, cross-sell, and up-sell their customers, it’s critical to understand consumers’ concerns and how to mitigate them, while still taking advantage of the rich interactions these sites engender.

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Please! Don't Shoot Your Social Media Messenger

It has been quite a week for me. I’ve been finishing off a client study of tech buyer Social Technographics -- 130 enterprises in their home European country. The data is good: consistent with what we had already gathered in our published work (see our April report); but of course, we have collected much more detail around this client’s specific market. But the client does not accept the data.

Curiously, I have had several conversations with tech vendor marketers who doubt our Social Technographics data. Peter Burris and I debated at length last month with an industry marketing manager for a services company. He said that only half of the people he sold to even had a PC (he was selling to Government accounts). And this project client of mine also refuses to believe the data we have collected. Their issue is actually more about being credible in front of their own executives. They are afraid that, because their own executives do not use social media themselves, they’ll reject the concept that 43% of their potential audience are Creators, which is what we found out.

I did provide a clarification on our Social Technographics ladder methodology in response. A Creator population of 43% does not mean that nearly half are writing blogs (that number is actually 28%). Creators is a combination of 5 different questions: it is about publishing a blog post, your own Web pages, uploading a video, uploading audio/music or writing articles and posting them. Whoever does ONE of these things at least monthly is called a Creator. But the chances are still that this client will just shelve the data we have collected, plus the analysis and recommendations on a suitable social media strategy, in order to avoid having to argue against, or educate, their own management.

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The Data Digest: Uptake Of Facebook In Asia

In the past few weeks, there have been many conversations about Facebook's privacy changes (and breaches); for example, see this post by my colleague Augie Ray earlier this week. However, what I'm missing in these discussions is how Facebook compares with other social media players worldwide. Although Facebook is the largest social media platform in the Western world, different players lead in other regions. For example, Facebook is struggling to gain ground in Asia Pacific:

With 58% of online adults accessing it, Orkut is the leading social platform in metropolitan India, while 27% of Japanese online adults use mixi; and in South Korea, Cyworld is most popular, attracting 63% of South Korean Internet users. What I'd like to know: how do these networks handle their users’ privacy?

Do Latin Americans Want To Interact With Companies Online?

Hola! Or as they say in Brazil — Olá! I am a new face on this blog, so let me introduce myself. My name is Roxana Strohmenger and I am on the Technographics Operations and Analytics Team, where I work with our clients, analysts, and vendors to make sure that our surveys — both syndicated and custom — utilize sound research methodologies and analytic tools. One of my newer responsibilities, though, is driving the content for our Latin American Technographics® research to help companies understand how technology and the Internet are changing the way Latin Americans go about their daily lives.

I am currently preparing for an exciting opportunity to give a presentation at ESOMAR’s Latin American 2010 conference next week, and I wanted to share with you some interesting findings regarding how Latin Americans want to connect with “others” on the Internet. I emphasize “others” because it is not friends and family that I am referring to but, in fact, companies. Yes, Latin Americans are extremely community-oriented and want to feel connected to their friends and families. And the Internet has become an exciting vehicle for them to stay connected. But, does this desire to be connected also extend to companies?

Surprisingly, the answer is yes. In fact our research shows that more than 75% of metropolitan online Brazilians and Mexicans expect companies to have a presence using social media tools like blogs, discussion forums, and social networking sites. To put this in perspective, we see that only 47% of US online adults have the same attitude. We’ve also found that among online Latin Americans who have this expectation:

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Facebook, Privacy, And How It’s Affecting Facebook's (and Marketers’) Future

LONDON - FEBRUARY 03: (FILE PHOTO)  In this ph...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

It’s no secret that Facebook is facing a privacy backlash. . . again.  Headlines ask if Facebook is at a tipping point, and many people give Facebook low grades for the way it has handled user privacy.

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Forrester’s European Online Ad Forecast: Rich Formats Will Push Display Ad Spending Higher While Search Growth Will Slow

One of the first tasks I settled on when I returned to Europe this year was to update our online ad forecast. After months of research, I’ve just published that report, ‘Western European Online Advertising Forecast Through 2014’ – and I’m happy to say that overall, the picture that’s developed is one of an industry returning to health. 2009 wasn’t a great year for the market, but thanks to a strong fourth quarter it wasn’t the terrible year everyone was expecting either – and more importantly, it looks like the weakness was a short-term blip rather than the beginning of a prolonged market slide. Western European online ad spending – which we define as the total of display ad spending and search spending in 17 countries – totalled €9.6 billion in 2009, and will grow to €13.9 billion in 2014.

When you dig a bit deeper, however, it becomes clear that different sectors of the market will have differing fortunes over the next five years. We think the big story between now and 2014 will be online display advertising. After a year of stagnation in 2009 – when it grew by just 1% across Western Europe – we think display is starting to look as healthy as ever. With huge advances in targeting helping response marketers deliver their ads to the right users, and with rich ad formats convincing brand marketers to shift more of their budget online, display will grow by 4% in 2010 and hit double-digit annual growth by 2013.

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Categories:

How Forrester Defines Western Europe

Because I’ve just published a new Western European forecast – and because I often get asked how we define which geographies we cover – I thought I’d clarify what we mean by "Western Europe." As of May 2010, Forrester defines Western Europe as the following 17 countries (listed here alphabetically):

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • UK

 

Put another way, when we talk about Western Europe, we’re talking about the old EU-15 plus Switzerland and Norway.

Owning Up To The Marketing Mix

Hi Marketing Leaders,

“Do less with more.” How’s that for a marching order from your CEO? Well, it’s a common phrase we hear every day from CMOs and marketing leaders. The Great Recession has created The Great Obsession with return on marketing investment.

My next report, “Owning Up To The Marketing Mix, focuses on marketing effectiveness and the increased accountability facing CMOs. The report guides CMOs on the value and limitations of marketing mix optimization. A former colleague and Forrester analyst, Julie Katz, who served Customer Intelligence managers, defined marketing mix modeling as:

>The process of using statistical analysis to estimate, optimize, and predict the impact of multichannel promotional tactics on future business revenue.

That is a great definition and highlights the scope (multichannel) and value (optimize and predict) of data-driven marketing allocation. During my interviews for this report, it is evident that marketing and media mix modeling have evolved as CMOs search for a more strategic tool to manage marketing as investment versus an expense

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Intercontinental Hotels: A Case Study In Customer-Centric Marketing

I just attended Unica’s annual Marketing Innovation Summit (MIS) this year in Orlando.  I sat in on a few terrific conversations about making multi-channel marketing a reality.  Here is the first: An overview of Intercontinental Hotel Group’s (IHG’s) use of data-driven marketing to improve communications with existing customers and prospects.

Lincoln Barrett, vice president for guest marketing and alliances, shared that, for IHG, building a customer-centric marketing strategy hinged on three different, but overlapping, initiatives:

  1. Invest in technology
  2. Expand into new frontiers
  3. Build a centralized customer organization

Each of these initiatives is still a work in progress, but excellent progress has already been made in each one. 

Invest In Technology

Step one here was to build a new data warehouse and real-time data mart that would allow IHG to match the data it was gathering through proprietary and third-party sources to existing customer information.  This step also made it possible to gain immediate access to data for analysis or campaign building purposes – a significant upgrade to IHG's previous functionality, which updated records in batches and only made data available some 30 days after a customer incident (like a hotel stay).

The next step was to expand outbound campaigns beyond email.  Technology upgrades (using Unica) automated internal campaign processes, created localization capabilities (for franchisees to create programs customized to their locale and customer relationships), and integrated call center data and activities with outbound campaign management.  As part of this step, IHG also streamlined its formerly multi-agency model into a single global agency.

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