The State of Cross-Channel Attribution

As you may have read, I've just published a report entitled "Untangling the Attribution Web" (subscription required). In the course of researching that report, it became clear that, despite the many years of discussion surrounding what's commonly called "fractional attribution," there's still a dearth of organizations who have successfully implemented a measurement approach beyond legacy last-touch allocation methods. Financial services firms get close, especially those who are using marketing mix modeling. And a handful of retailers are executing a cross-channel attribution strategy, but many of them are still battling inconsistent metrics and channel conflict. So we found ourselves wondering why adoption of such a critical business initiative has stagnated.

As a result, we've created a very brief survey for attribution vendors and multichannel marketers to help us assess the current state of attribution. The survey will give us some visibility into the key challenges and opportunities surround attribution, and why its adoption is lagging. And, it will help guide our next report, wherein we'll provide an organization readiness assessment for attribution, and lay the framework for its successful implementation.

Please take five minutes to complete the survey; all responses are anonymous and only reported in aggregate. The next report will go live late this month or early in January, and participants will receive a copy of the published report.

Vendors, please go here.

Marketers, please go here.

Introducing Forrester’s Online Customer Service Functionality Benchmark

Forrester has launched the Online Customer Service Functionality Benchmark, a new tool to help eBusiness professionals assess the performance of their online customer service functionality and gain insight into their competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.

This review assesses the availability, accessibility and functionality of online customer service channels. Our approach follows three steps:

Step 1: Define user goals.The review attempts to complete user goals that we selected for each customer service channel such as looking for product information, seeking pricing options, and managing accounts.

Step 2: Score the sites on user criteria for five online customer service categories. We evaluate 103 criteria to assess a Web site’s ability to provide best-in-class online customer service. The review is broken up into categories including self-service, live help, social customer service, email and video customer support. Forrester assigns weightings for criteria based on importance, with higher weightings for availability and resolution. The score for each category is normalized to accommodate the varying number of criteria in each.

Step 3: Apply category weightings. Forrester assigns weights for each of the online customer service categories. Categories are weighted based on higher consumer usage and higher satisfaction data.

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Google eBooks Paves The Way For Ad-Supported Publishing

Brace for impact. What I'm about to say is going to make a lot of people angry, including some of the people at Google who are going to rightly point out that when they pre-briefed me on today's Google eBooks announcement, we never once discussed ad-supported reading.

Instead, they told me all about their plan to establish a set of tools that will offer eBooks to people looking for book information through Google's search engine. They explained that this will make it possible for the millions of people who conduct book-related searches every day to have easy access to 3 million books -- some out of copyright, some out of print but under copyright, and a full range of in-print titles including bestsellers. They also described how independent booksellers will be able to use the same set of web-based commerce and reading tools to build their own branded eBook stores to finally extend their brick-and-mortar customer relationships into the digital space.

Since then, I've spoken to half a dozen reporters who were also pre-briefed and they have all had a similar set of questions: can Google compete against Amazon (no, but it can compete against Barnes & Noble), is it too late to make a dent in a mature market (no, less than 10% of online adults in the US read eBooks, there's plenty of room to grow), is Google's cloud-based strategy unique (yes and no, it supports all devices except the Kindle, but the Kindle platform actually supports as many devices as Google will). 

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Q&Agency: Acquity Group

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I 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 and medium-size interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On November 16th, I talked with Rick Nash, the VP of strategic marketing at Acquity Group. Edited excerps from that conversation follow.

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about Acquity Group?

Rick: Ah, that’s a long story. Our founders owned a company that rolled up into USWeb in Chicago. As many people know, USWeb saw explosive growth in the late 90s. It then merged with WhittmanHart and became marchFIRST. Before marchFIRST imploded during the dot-com boom, our founders left to found Acquity group. That was in 2001. It was the same four guys, along with a number of their colleagues from the dot-com era whom they had met along the way. I came from Sapient. Now we’ve grown to 450 people spread across nine offices including [those in] Irvine, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Scottsdale, Dallas, Kansas City, and Boise. We’re looking to expand into Asia, and we’ve begun that process with a Beijing office. We work with brands like AT&T, Motorola, McDonald’s, Best Buy, and General Motors. Our clients are big-name global brands, and we’re really proud of that.

Forrester: What is your elevator pitch?

Rick: Acquity group is an interdisciplinary digital consultancy. We create award-winning, multichannel, multidevice, multinational digital solutions for complex organizations. Our approach brings together strategy, creative, and technology to create differentiation and value in the digital space.

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Customers’ Problems Are Companies’ Loyalty-Building Opportunities

Most customer experience efforts focus on doing bad things less and doing good things more. That’s a reasonable approach. But, realistically, customers will run into problems no matter how hard companies try to eliminate them. Albert Einstein described this well when he said, “Every day, man is making bigger and better fool-proof things, and every day, nature is making bigger and better fools.” Even without foolish customers or incompetent companies, customer problems will persist because customers are constantly changing — their preferences, their technology uses, their life stages.

Companies should embrace this reality because: 1) Problem resolution experiences that exceed customer expectations build loyalty, and 2) problem resolution experiences that fall below customer expectations erode loyalty.

In a recent Forrester survey, we asked North American consumers about their experiences in getting problems resolved. You can find my full analysis in a new report, but here are a few highlights:

  • Repeat business. Eighty-one percent of respondents who said a company’s problem resolution experience far exceeded their expectations also said that they’re very likely to do business with that company again. Only 5% of those who said problem resolution experiences fell far below expectations said that they’re very likely to do business with the same company again.
  • Word of mouth. Sixty-five percent of respondents who said that problem resolution experiences far exceeded their expectations also said that they’re very likely to tell someone about the experience. Even more — 71% — of those who said that their experiences fell far below expectations said that they’re very likely to tell someone.
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Cyber Monday Post-Mortem

Enough with the Groupon madness this week.  Let’s talk about things that actually impact our businesses.  Like holidays sales to date, and in particular, a quick post-mortem on Cyber Monday now that the week is over.  Forrester fielded some questions to consumers in conjunction with Bizrate Insights (the findings will be available in full to clients in a few weeks) and here are some quick takeaways as teasers: 

  • Most people don’t buy on Cyber Monday (though many would like to), so the Cyberweek deals like Amazon has are always a good idea.  62% of the 3,200 shoppers we surveyed said that they didn’t shop on Cyber Monday.
  • Of those who shopped but did not buy (45% of shoppers who were trolling eCommerce sites on Cyber Monday!), 28% wanted to buy but didn’t see any products that they wanted. Product selection is king.
  • Social, schmocial.  Not such a big deal yet.  Only 7% of people who found deals on Cyber Monday found them through social networks or Twitter, versus 51% who found them from emails from the retailer.
  • Some people live under rocks. Kidding. But one-fifth of the people who didn’t shop on Cyber Monday said “They didn’t know there was anything special about that day.”  How that is possible I have no idea, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they don’t have time in their lives to squander away time online like the rest of us.  But for anyone really wondering what this “special day” is about, check out this link (see the full slideshow here) — these are screen shots of the top 50 merchants’ home pages from this past Monday.
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Meet Us In San Francisco, February 14-15, 2011, For The Technology Sales Enablement Forum

We are counting down to power up the Sales Enablement Forum 10 short weeks from now. Please hold the dates, February 14-15, so you can join hundreds of your peers and a bunch of Forrester analysts, executives, and our own CEO George Colony in San Francisco to explore our theme, "New Buyers, New Demands: Accelerating Sales Performance."

We worked hard on that one, by the way, because the stark reality that buyers have changed already and that technology sales people, and the supply chains behind them, are scrambling to catch up is leading to a real sense of urgency amongst our clients. The economy is thawing, and sales enablement professionals are looking for the disciplines and practices they can seed and nurture in their organizations to drive the volume, velocity, and quality of sales' pipelines. Hard challenge, that. Change, cross-functional work, new thinking, new behaviors.

Now imagine the range of perspectives that bear on that challenge. Do we change the message, the messenger, the portfolio, or maybe all of it, to get the outcomes we desire?

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Worst Online Chat Ever!

In October, Ron Rogowski provided a couple of excerpts from one of our colleague's online chat with her cable and Internet provider. But this chat session was so bad that I couldn't resist the urge to share it in its entirity. (Read to the end for a fantastic Yoda moment.) By the way, I made no edits to the transcript other than to change the names and obscure identifying information.

* * *

User Elizabeth has entered room.

Elizabeth (Sat Oct 2 11:36:45 EDT 2010) > I don't know my [company] ID or my password, so I can't log in to my account. I tried to set up a new account, but the site says my account already has an online account. Can you please reset my information (so I can create a new account) or help me log in?

Analyst Carol has entered room.

Carol (Sat Oct 2 11:36:50 EDT 2010)> Hello Elizabeth, Thank you for contacting [company] Chat Support. My name is Carol. Please give me one moment to review your information.

Carol (Sat Oct 2 11:37:05 EDT 2010)> My pleasure to have you on this chat, Elizabeth! Remaining committed and focused on my goal which is to provide quality customer service at my fullest effort will always be at the pinnacle. It is with utmost sincerity that I want to extend apologies for any trouble, inconvenience and frustration the log in issue has brought along your way. I simply hope you are doing fine.

Carol (Sat Oct 2 11:37:26 EDT 2010)> No worries. As your [company] service representative, I want you to know that issue resolution and your satisfaction are my top priorities for today. Together, we can work this out, Elizabeth.

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I'm On A Social Media Horse!

Hello, marketers, I'm Social Media.  Look at your traditional marketing; now back to me; now back at your traditional marketing; now back to me. 

How's your traditional marketing looking?  Time spent watching TV at home rose just 0.6 percent in the first quarter and newspaper circulation is down 5% after a 10.6% plunge a year ago. Meanwhile, traffic to Facebook is up 60% this year.  

Now look at your television and print budgets. Better put on sunglasses or all those zeros and commas may blind you! Now look at your social media budget -- I'll wait while you find a magnifying glass. Now back to your television budget; now back to my budget.

Can your traditional advertising cut costs like me? Can it reach 150,000 with 98% positive sentiment at no cost like me? Can it cause 4.8M people to seek it out rather than be ignored as the DVR fast-forwards? Does it empower your employees?

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More Mobile Marketing Research Coming In 2011

If you follow the research we produce here on Forrester’s Interactive Marketing team, you’ve likely noticed that we’ve been writing a lot more about mobile as of late. With more marketers planning on piloting mobile programs next year, and with consumer mobile Internet adoption on the rise, you can expect to see even more research into the topic in 2011. 

Here's what I'm currently planning on researching and writing about:

  • Mobile strategy. We'll look at what a comprehensive mobile strategy is, how to move from experimentation to true strategizing, and the essential elements that make mobile strategies successful.
  • Mobile measurement. We'll investigate the metrics marketers currently use to measure their mobile campaigns, emerging standards, and success benchmarks.
  • Vendors. There are so many vendors developing expertise in the mobile marketing space, falling into different categories, specializing in different technologies, and offering different kinds of engagement. We'll help you make sense of your options.
  • Operations. While every company is unique in the way it organizes and budgets for channels and programs, we'll be looking for common ground in the mobile space with a view toward helping you evlolve your IM efforts to support this growing channel.
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