Starting To Play With Social Gamers

With all the interest in a reported Zynga IPO, my new report on how interactive marketers can engage social gamers is particularly timely. Social gaming is an area I'll be covering more closely this year, and I thought the best way to start my coverage would be to take a look at the demographics of players and identify the opportunities for interactive marketers. There are more than 250 million monthly active players and many different ways marketers can reach this audience. However, we were surprised to find that 84% of US interactive marketers have no plans to use games in their 2011 marketing strategies.  This creates a sizable untapped opportunity. 

In the report, you will find:

  • Data on social gamers and learn more about who they are.
  • Opportunities for marketers, including branded virtual goods and sponsored rich media.
  • Several examples of marketing tactics.
  • Tips to get started in social games.

If you are a social gaming vendor, I'd like to speak to you! Please tweet me @Shaw_Smith2

The Future Of Mobile Is Context

Why do you use the remote to change the channel on your TV? An airplane to fly across the country? A microwave to heat up food? Why -- because it is convenient. Consumers will adopt and use convenient services and products. In mobile, this means services that offer immediacy and simplicity through a highly contextual experience. If my gate changes for my flight leaving in 40 minutes, I want to know now -- there is value in knowing now or immediately. If I want to donate money to the flood victims in Louisiana, it is simpler to send a quick text message rather than write a check and mail it. If I want to eat Thai food near my home, I want to find a restaurant in San Francisco -- near my location (context). Using my phone that leverages my location through GPS is simpler than typing in a neighborhood or address.

Mobile phones are convenient tools to do many things today -- refill a prescription, deposit a check, navigate, check Facebook, or get email. The list of convenient services on mobile phones is going to continue to grow. Why? Because contextual information is going to get a lot, lot richer. Today, context is primarily the location of an individual, their stated preferences, or past behavior (e.g., purchases). This information is gathered as consumers use their mobile phones for navigation, news, and shopping. The information collected will become much richer for two reasons. First, consumers will use their phones to do more things (e.g., change channels on the TV, monitor glucose levels, and open their car doors). Second, devices will have sensors such as barometers or microbolometers that collect more information passively about the consumer’s environment. The available information is becoming richer -- companies that want to deliver contextual experiences must evolve their expertise.

Forrester has identified four phase of evolution:

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Agile Commerce: Three Questions For Paul Papas, Global Leader Of Smarter Commerce At IBM

I recently had the chance to catch up with Paul Papas, Global Leader of Smarter Commerce at IBM, to understand what impact the transition to agile commerce is having on IBM, its business strategy, and its organizational structure.

Forrester: Paul, thanks for taking some time out to talk to us about agile commerce. We have been continuing to talk to clients about the evolution of their business from channels to touchpoints that span mobile devices, social networks, advertising, marketing, traditional channels, and various places online. How are you looking at this and what does it mean for your business?

Mr. Papas: Our view is that there’s a very strong and consequential change taking place as the result of the huge surge in the use of social networks and mobile devices. It’s this, customers expect to do business on their own terms, and most organizations are unprepared for this today. This is not only changing how companies and their customers interact, it is thoroughly changing what customers value and expect from companies. One example is this notion of immediacy. People are turning to their smartphones, tablets, and online communities for instant satisfaction -- finding discounts and recommendations, based on their current location -- all available to them at the instant they decide to buy. This is adding intense pressure for businesses to adapt to provide value, personalized and sensitive to the moment or instant, anywhere -- and to do so continuously. 

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Greetings From Beautiful (And Rainy) Singapore!

I’ve been given the privilege of traveling to Singapore this week to participate in an Audience Targeting Summit being presented by Microsoft. As audience targeting is a subject that's near and dear to my heart (see The Audience Targeting Imperative), I’m very excited to have been asked by Microsoft to participate. 

I’m also excited to experience such an interesting non-US market firsthand. I’m already learning a great deal about the unique challenges and obstacles faced by marketers and agencies in the Asia Pac region. For instance, creating a cohesive, multichannel digital marketing campaign when you’re trying to coordinate efforts across a handful of countries, all with different languages, processes and rules is really challenging.  (One great place to start, I was told -- and I couldn’t agree more -- is to focus on creating a baseline level of continuity in measurement through the rollout of a common set of metrics and definitions).

On that note, I’ll be extremely interested to learn more about the audience targeting landscape here -- and its accompanying challenges and opportunities -- at the Microsoft event this Friday.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my ear to the ground for other interesting insights that I can share with the Forrester Interactive Marketing community!

--Joanna

Understanding How To Deploy Chat Internationally Offers Insight About Multi-Language Considerations At Home

Many eBusiness professionals -- inspired by the business results they have seen at home with chat including call deflection, increased conversion, and enhanced customer satisfaction -- are expanding chat into their international Web sites.

While the elements of a successful chat transcend borders, the components to a successful international deployment can be complex. eBusiness professionals must consider their international markets, their international readiness, and what localization will be required to be successful. To assist in meeting these challenges, we published a document today called, "Taking Chat International: Paving The Way To Success Through Effective Localization."

One of the more complex challenges is managing translation. Some of the key questions include:

  • Should you hire native speakers or translate during chat sessions? Hiring native speakers is ideal, but not always practical. Alternatives include training chat reps to identify variations in spelling, grammar or vocabulary between different audiences or using translation technology.
  • What will be needed from technology to support multi-language agents? Key considerations include what it will mean to business processes when an agent supports chat sessions coming in from different languages, the impact if agents will need to search for answers in one language and push answers to consumers in another, and the impact of multiple languages on your maintaining an accurate knowledge base.
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Who Owns Behavior Change In The Sales Force? - A Key Question For SE Pros From ASTD's 2011 International Conference

This week, I presented a session on "How to Drive Sales Coaching Results" at the International Conference for the American Society for Training and Development. While ASTD doesn't publish the actual number of attendees, my guess is there between 7,000 to 9,000 people in attendance. Session topics run the gamut with topics related to change management, performance management, instructional design, talent management, e-learning, performance improvement, and of course, sales training. 

It was interesting to attend the conference this year and experience it as someone who spends a lot of time thinking through human performance, HR, training, learning, and coaching with Forrester's definition of "sales enablement" in mind. At Forrester, we define sales enablement as "a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system." With this top-down view in mind I participated in a panel discussion on the future of sales training, delivered a session on driving sales coaching results, and also chaired the day-long ASTD Sales Training Committee meeting to help chart ASTDs course for the next few years in the sales training and development space. 

I asked a series of questions to a room of 200 attendees. Here's what I asked:

  1. If organizations are changing their go-to-market strategy, do sales managers and leaders need to help the sales team transform? The answer... a resounding "yes"
  2. If sales managers and leaders need to transform, do sales reps and managers need to change their behavior? The answer... a resounding "yes"
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Join Forrester's Tweet Jam About YOU: May 24th (Today!) At 2pm US Eastern

As you may have seen, for the past two weeks we’ve run a tweet jam called #IMChat. Our first two topics, CORE and social influence, were well received but really about what Forrester folks think is interesting. So it’s time to turn the social media table around. What are you interested in? What do you want to talk about with your peers?

To participate, just follow the #IMChat hashtag at 2:00 p.m. If you’d like to learn more about the rules of engagement, visit this community discussion on The Forrester Community For Interactive Marketing Professionals. To read some past archives, visit the documents section of the same community.

Here are some of the questions we'll be discussing during today’s tweet jam:

1.       What digital marketing initiatives are most important to your success within your organization?

2.      What digital marketing initiative causes you the most headaches? Why?

3.      What resources do you currently use to find answers to your digital marketing questions?

4.      How do you utilize digital marketing peers in your day-to-day decision making? Are they external or internal resources?

5.       How do you utilize third-party vendors and agencies in your digital marketing programs?

Why Seth Godin's Service Design Tips Miss The Mark

In Seth Godin’s recent post, "Who’s responsible for service design?" he points out several service issues with questions like, “How many people should be answering the phone at Zappos.com on a Saturday? What’s Southwest Airlines' policy regarding hotel stays and cancelled flights? Should the knobs on the shower at the hotel go side by side or one above the other?” He then goes on to say, “Too often, we blame bad service on the people who actually deliver the service. Sometimes (often) it’s not their fault.”

I’m totally with him up to that point.

But then he goes on to blame two sets of people for service delivery issues: overpaid executives and service designers.  Yes, executives set the direction for customer experience. And yes, there is a growing cadre of service designers in service design firms and in-house design teams. But I’d argue that these professionals are responsible for just a tiny fraction of the service experiences that exist today. Unfortunately, most companies just aren’t aware of the field of service design or the value it brings, so they haven't hired service designers to assist with customer experience efforts.

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How To Win Executives And Influence Strategy

Recently, I was researching how market insights professionals can enhance their internal position and have a greater influence on their companies’ strategies (for an upcoming Forrester Leadership Board exclusive research report). As part of the research, I spoke with leaders at the market insights and CMO levels to get their views on how market insights professionals can succeed, build internal awareness and reputations and be able to more effectively influence the company’s direction and strategies.

As I spoke to these leaders, I kept hearing things I had read years ago from a beat-up 10-cent book I found at the local flea market. That book was Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. It was published back in 1937, which was right about the time George Gallup (of Gallup Poll fame) founded the American Institute of Public Opinion, part of the growing tide of companies doing this new thing called market research.

For those who are not acquainted with Dale Carnegie’s book, it provides advice on how to make people like you, win them to your way of thinking and change them (without giving offense or arousing resentment). It even provides rules for making your home life happier! Salespeople swear by this book and I have to say that it’s been a great guide for me (and provided an amazing ROI on my 10-cent investment).

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Want To Win A Voice Of The Customer Award? Prove Business Impact

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been part of a group that picked the winners of Forrester’s Voice Of The Customer Awards for 2011. I can’t yet tell you the names of the three winners — those companies will be announced on June 21 at our Customer Experience Forum in New York, along with the other seven entrants that made up our top 10. But I can share some insight into what separated the winners from the contenders.

At one end of the spectrum, the clarity with which entrants described their programs didn’t create much differentiation. With very few exceptions, descriptions ranged from very clear to extremely clear and “please stop with the detail already, my eyes are starting to bleed” clear.

At the other end of the spectrum, the business benefits that companies derived from their voice of the customer (VoC) programs provided diamond-hard clarity as to which companies were great and which were just good.  

To understand why that is, consider the question in the awards submission form that asks about business benefits. It was worded exactly like this:

“How has this activity improved your organization's business results? Please be as specific as possible about business benefits like increased revenue, decreased cost, increased customer satisfaction, or decreased customer complaints. Please specify how you measure those benefits.”

The judges were looking for a response along the lines of:

  1. We heard these specific things from customers through our VoC program.
  2. As a result of what we heard, we made these specific changes.
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