Revisiting The Meaning Of "Engagement"

In 2007, Forrester called "Engagement" marketing's new key metric. We defined it as "the level of involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence an individual has with a brand over time." Since then the term has taken on a life of its own (a Google search for "marketing engagement" returns more than 47 million entries) and has come dangerously close to becoming an industry platitude bandied about with little to no meaning. How did this happen? Well, due to overwhelming clutter and the need to connect with customers in a world in which people created 500 billion online word-of-mouth impressions through social media, marketers needed a new term to describe the interaction they were having with customers and "engagement" fit the bill. Yet the term is now mostly used to describe the first half of our definition: "involvement and interaction." But any good marketer knows just getting a customer to be involved or to interact with an application or campaign is typically not enough to drive results — even basic awareness. In fact, there are two types of failed marketing campaigns on the Internet. The first is the ghost town of shiny objects that are littered across the Internet (see Second Life just to start). One marketer aptly described these as "the ones where we had great expectations and heard nothing but crickets." The second type is even more common but not always deemed a failure. These are the ones in which the marketer, and more often the agency, spin the program with a variety of metrics like clicks, visits, time spent, downloads, etc. — yet are never able to tie them back to real business

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What's The Value Of Battle Cards?

During the past few months, our sales enablement team has researched and written about battle cards. We've spoken with more than 40 companies, including CMI leaders and sales professionals, to understand how sales reps use battle cards, what role a battle card plays in fueling customer conversations, and what CMI organizations can do to build more value into their battle cards.

During our interviews, sales reps told us that they need battle cards for effective selling today. Reps spend their time identifying a customer’s problems and building a shared vision to solve them. Competitors also engage in a similar journey, and sales reps told us that battle cards help them to:

Anticipate traps. Sales reps need to be aware of ideas that competitors will suggest to the customer early in the sales cycle, but that the customer won’t bring up until the final stages of a purchase. One rep told us of a situation: “A competitor’s rep told the customer that we have a lot of hidden costs – that we don’t include them in our early proposals, but that we will ‘change our tune’ later.” How do you prepare your sales reps for competitive traps?

Respond to questions. Sales reps must be able to answer their customer’s questions and recognize the more subtle issue behind the question – especially those issues that originate with statements from a competitor. A simple dialog shown in the graphic illustrates how a competitor will influence the questions that customers ask. How do you anticipate competitor’s questions and equip sales reps to respond?

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Social Media Best Practices: Don’t Take A Bite Out Of The Apple

This is Peter O’Neill and I had a very busy Forrester Marketing Forum last week in San Francisco: two presentations (well, two halves, I suppose, because I was the co-presenter) plus dozens of one-on-ones with Forrester clients. While I would have preferred to talk about differentiation in the customer lifecycle, the theme of my first Forum presentation and my most recent report, the incorporation of social media into the marketing mix continues to be the hottest topic for most tech marketers. It was exciting to be able to share our brand new Tech Buyer Social Technographics data which has just come in. BTW, the level of social media activity in European buyers is still ahead of American buyers – I will be presenting the European data in my planned Forrester teleconferences on May 9th: once in German for local clients, prospects and press; and once in English for other Forrester clients.  

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Social Data Meets Customer Data

As much as I believe in the power of social media data, I've always stood by the fact that if you just monitor social media, you'll only learn about social media. If you want to learn about your customers, you'll have to look at them across all of their varied communication channels.

With this concept in mind, today NM Incite and Clarabridge announced they are joining forces — and data — through an integration partnership. The strategic alliance gives customers the ability to feed NM Incite's social data through Clarabridge's text analytics platform, run sentiment analysis, and combine it with other voice of the customer (VoC) data. This partnership signifies two important areas for Customer Intelligence professionals:

  • Successful VoC programs require access to social media. Social media is important in the customer feedback space, but it's not the silver bullet. It is a series of channels to monitor consumer discussion and gain customer insight — but it's just one set of many areas to learn about customers. A complete picture of a customer comes from any of the fragmented ways they communicate — including surveys, chat transcripts, call logs, and more. Just yesterday my colleague Andrew McInnes — our resident VoC expert — published research on the importance of listening to social media as part of the customer feedback process. Check out Andrew's blog for more VoC coverage.
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Citizen Experience Can Help Agencies And Unions Address Budget Woes

Like it or not, government services face many of the same pressures that companies face. Companies like Amazon.com, USAA, Disney, and Zappos.com raise customer expectations when they deliver stellar service. As they raise the bar, other companies and government agencies risk getting fired when they fail to deliver the value that customers expect, make customers jump through hoops to access it, or begrudgingly deliver it through unengaged employees. Customers and citizens simply choose to take their money elsewhere.

It’s through this lens that I’ve watched the recent battles over state budgets and public employees along with their unions. When citizens don’t perceive they're getting a good value for the buck, they take their money elsewhere, even if that is through the ballot box — no wonder, when the citizen experience is so often sub-par.

Here are a few examples I’ve witnessed just in the past couple weeks: A group of on-duty cops spend an hour drinking coffee in Starbucks when people don’t feel comfortable walking around the streets a few blocks away; DMV workers look bored and move at the pace of sloths while I spend an hour waiting in line, even though they’re likely making way more money than the waitress at a local restaurant who’s super-friendly and efficient; a public transportation worker holds a sign at a street car stop urging people to smile, even when the lines often experience large delays; a gruff postal worker begrudgingly gets off his stool to get my package and then throws it on the counter.

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Creating Effective Mobile Experiences: The Workshop

My colleague, Kerry Bodine recently posted about the lack of big brands with mobile apps available in the Apple App Store and offered several suggestions for how brands can create end-to-end value for their customers by supporting them through their mobile devices. Forrester VP Julie Ask takes this concept even farther in her research outlining how various industries can create mobile value propositions to support existing channels, extend other channels, or create unique mobile experiences. But of course creating the right mobile service is just part of the battle. Customer experience professionals are tasked to ensure that those experiences are useful, usable, and enjoyable. How do we do that? 

  • Invest in understanding how your customers behave with their mobile devices. Surveys and focus groups aren't sufficient when trying to design an experience. While they might let you prioritize features or fixes, they don't get you an actual understanding of how your customers use their mobile devices, when and where they use them, and how you might offer value through the device. This doesn't need to be really expensive. The design team at britishairways.com (ba.com) occasionally visits its frequent-flier lounge with mock-ups and prototypes and tests design concepts with its most valuable customers.
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Notes From The Bazaarvoice Social Summit, April 5-6, Austin, TX

After two days of very well done presentations from the Bazaarvoice team, observers of the social space and some business leaders, I come away from the Bazaarvoice Social Summit with a few thoughts:

  • Generally, the big theme was that use of ratings and reviews by eBusiness pros continues to deepen and add value to overall business success. We heard from Argos, Urban Outfitters, J&J, Xerox, Adobe, Best Buy, Rubbermaid, P&G, LL Bean, 3M and Estee Lauder. All of these businesses showed how they have fully embedded the use of ratings and reviews content throughout their businesses. For example, improved product data gained from ratings and reviews content is sent to all customer touchpoints such as the call center, POS, etc., at Argos; Rubbermaid realized from review content that people don’t read packaging and found that products didn’t perform well when consumers didn’t use the product as directed, so it changed the packaging and the product collateral and thus set expectations more in line with the intended use of the product and now have highly satisfied customers. And the examples like this continued throughout the conference. Look for our coming snapshot report showing some other examples of how eBusinesses continue to mine this valuable content to drive business results.
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The eCommerce Technology Selection Checklist

If you have not read it already, I encourage you to read The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. In the book, Mr. Gawande explains the phenomenal results checklists can deliver in both routine processes and when processes go hay-wire.  Much of the book deals with Mr. Gawande’s experiences in delivering improved results when using checklists in performing surgeries — literally a matter of life and death. The book makes a compelling case for using checklists in any matter of activities to help even seasoned, highly trained individuals — such as surgeons and pilots — deliver positive results. 

While eCommerce technology selection is not a matter of life and death, still much goes wrong. And when things go wrong, there are many impacts, including cost and time over-runs, lost business opportunity, and the delivery of failed customer experiences. (And of course negative impacts on careers and reputations.) Many of those bad outcomes can be avoided. In our work with clients — and technology vendors who deliver products and services to those clients — we hear over and over again stories of what goes wrong. Many times these are problems that could have been avoided had simple best practices been followed. We have created this checklist to help eBusiness leaders and their teams to run technology selection processes consistently and routinely, following best practices.

The checklist illustrates these steps in a tool you can use as is or customize as needed:

Before you begin the selection process:

  • Business owner/project champion assigned
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Q&Agency: UEgroup

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 to midsize interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On March 16th, I talked with Tony Fernandes, the CEO and chief instigator at UEgroup and StudioUE. Edited excerpts from that conversation follow.

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about your agencies? Why the two names?

Tony: UEgroup is focused on the research-to-design phase, and StudioUE is focused on the design-to-development phase of delivering digital experiences. The separation came about because I conducted research with potential clients and realized that companies wanted to work with firms that could specialize in specific areas. The two brands cater to two audiences and live in separate office space to engender the separate focus our clients are looking for. We have some customers that are very research-oriented customers and others that are much more production-oriented customers. We’re taking our own advice and using a customer-centric approach to the way our brand is being presented.

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2D Bar Codes: Where Are We Today?

Microsoft Tag had a big announcement this week.

It announced:

  • March had the greatest number of Tag scans since Tag launched in January 2009, with more than 50 percent more scans than any other month to date.
  • The number of scans per month has doubled over the past three months, and the number of users per month has increased 2.5 times in that same timeframe.
  • Three billion Tags were printed during the past six months alone, and 5 billion Tags have been printed since Microsoft Tag’s January 2009 launch.
  • Publishing continues to lead among top industries adopting Tag, with retail scenarios and entertainment holding the second and third positions, respectively.
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