Gamification: Defining A Shiny New Thing

If you're a marketer, chances are you've been hearing the term "gamification" thrown around quite a bit lately. Over the course of the last month, I've been doing a lot of research about what gamification means for interactive marketers and identifying the opportunities that exist. The result? A report set to publish next month chock-full of examples and definitions. 

So, what is gamification? Forrester's defines gamification as: The insertion of game dynamics and mechanics into non-game activities to drive a desired behavior. 

Interactive marketers use game mechanics to drive brand engagement. This begins with the motivations --what triggers people to want to interact with a game. The motivations drive actions that are incentivized by rewards. The rewards help players to earn achievements that reinforce the initial motivations. And there you have it, introducing The Engagement Loop. 

We're just wrapping up the research now, and soon you'll be able to learn more about vendors, such as Bunchball, that can help you gamify everything from your website to your mobile app; you'll also be able to view examples of brands that are playing to win. 

Is Google+ Going To Kill Facebook?

You'll have to forgive Facebook if they woke up this morning thinking the sky was falling; if they were subject to the same avalanche of news, comments, and questions about Google+ as the rest of us were for these last 24 hours, it'll seem like they've already been condemned to the social media scrapheap. And in case Facebook needed any reminder of how quickly social networking pioneers can fall, Google+ was launched on the same day MySpace, once supposedly valued at $12 billion, was sold for just $35 million to an ad network.

As my colleague Josh Bernoff points out, however, it's a bit too early to write Facebook's obituary. First, we have to consider the fact that Google hasn't exactly lit the social world on fire in the past: Google Buzz was largely ignored, Google Wave was largely ridiculed, and even Orkut may be starting to lose its famous lead in Brazil. Then there's the fact that Google+'s key feature — the ability to organize your friends into "circles" and share certain content only with certain circles — isn't exactly new: Facebook already offers "lists" that let you target which content is seen by which friends.

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How To Build An Interactive Brand Ecosystem

A couple months ago I talked about the reasons interactive marketing is ready to lead your brand -- namely, that it offers scale that can compete with any other channel, it provides more depth than any other channel, it’s more trusted by consumers than any other marketing channel, and it provides marketers a richer storytelling palette than any other channel.

The logical next question is: If interactive is ready to take the lead, how do we make that happen? A lot of people think budget is the answer; they say if we simply push more spending online we’ll have a better chance to leverage interactive tools. But I’m not fixated just on budget, for two reasons. First, more than 70% of marketers are already taking budget out of traditional channels to fund new interactive spending -- so this budget shift is already under way. But second, and much more importantly, is the fact that simply pouring more money into interactive tools won't fix the flaws in how companies develop their marketing programs.

For me, leading your brand with interactive marketing isn’t about choosing one channel over another; it's about rethinking how all our marketing channels work together. The way we "coordinate" our marketing channels right now is broken: Even today, most marketers develop their TV ads first and then hand them to the interactive team and hope they can build a site or a banner campaign that matches. As we've all seen, this rarely works well.

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Join Our Tweet Jam (Tue 28 Jun) At 2PM Eastern About Splinternet Challenges #IMChat

Author and Senior Vice President of Idea Development at Forrester Josh Bernoff (@jbernoff) is leading tomorrow’s tweet jam about the Splinternet – the fraying of the standardized Internet across mobile and social platforms.

If you’re experiencing the effects of the Splinternet, we’d love to hear from you. Here are some of the questions we’ll discuss:

  1. How has the explosion in mobile platforms and social networks created a challenge for you to manage?
  2. How do you decide which platforms and networks to support or target for marketing?
  3. Do you worry about the rules that owners of these platforms (like Apple and Facebook) impose on those who use them?
  4. How do you measure and compare results on these platforms?
  5. Do you think the future will be characterized by more common standards, or by more and more incompatible platforms?

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.

Looking forward to hearing from you at 2 p.m. on Tuesday!


Product Launch Metamorphosis: From Introverted To Social Butterfly

Product launches often have a reputation for being constrained by tightly managed internal processes, cross-organizational misalignment, and closed communication loops. So how does a tech marketer improve the experience? I have been involved with many product launches and events during my 15-year career in the high-tech industry and have seen the good, bad, and the ugly of each of these constraints. In my experience,  social media has provided the "good." It loosens internal processes by allowing customer conversations to influence the direction of a product launch. It brings organizations together through the sharing of data captured by monitoring tools. It opens communication by allowing internal product launch teams to interact with customers, in real time, throughout each stage of the launch. If done correctly, all of these benefits will lead to more effective (and successful) product launch events.  My new "The Social Tech Product Launch" report shows how it is possible to turn your inverted product launch into a Social Butterfly.

How have you used social media and listening platforms in your product launch processes? 

Join Forrester’s Tweet Jam About B2B Email: Tuesday June 21st at 2:00pm Eastern

Guest post by Sarah Glass (@sarahsglass).

For this week's #IMChat -- a weekly tweet jam hosted by the interactive marketing team at Forrester -- we’re tackling the oft overlooked challenges of B2B email. Email marketing consistently acts as a revenue work horse for B2C as well as B2B companies. But our research shows that compared to B2C, B2B companies are less likely to use email, adopt common best practices, or increase funding of existing programs. Joining the tweet jam to help me (@sarahsglass) discuss the challenges B2B marketers face is Kristin Hambelton (@KMHambelton), vice president of marketing, Neolane.

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 discuss during the tweet jam:

  1. What are the common pitfalls of B2B marketing?
  2. How are deliverability concerns different for B2B marketers versus B2C marketers?
  3. How does B2B email fit into the buying life cycle?
  4. How are you segmenting your B2B emails to make them most relevant to your users?
  5. What measurement techniques are you using to track lead generation?  

Why Marketing To Millennials Online Is Tricky

For my last report, I took a deep dive into the complex attitudes and online behaviors of Generation Y (ages 18-31) through the lens of an interactive marketer. Let's just say that marketers face a lot of challenges when it comes to targeting this demographic. Millennials are digital natives, influence family purchasing decisions, and expect your marketing to be personal and contextual. In addition, online millennial marketing requires a skillful approach across multiple channels and devices. While this may sound complicated and/or expensive, it doesn't have to be. In fact, lots of brands are tapping into internal experts and specialty agencies to market more effectively. In  Marketing To Millennials: The Next Generation Of Purchasing Power, you'll find some key data that helps marketers to better understand online consumer behavior, attitudes, and adoption.  You'll also see some concrete examples of brands targeting Millennials well and those that are investing in them early to build brand awareness. You can read the report here.

Join The Tweet Jam On Customer Loyalty


Guest post by Emily Murphy (@ekmurphy) on behalf of Forrester’s research team serving Customer Intelligence Professionals.

A few weeks ago, Zach Hofer-Shall led a tweet jam on social influence. It garnered such a good response that we decided to take another Customer Intelligence approach to the #IMChat. But this week -- at 2 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, June 14th -- we’re going to talk about a different hot topic: customer loyalty.

Personally, I would consider myself something of a loyalty program junkie. I sign up for lots of programs and willingly share loads of information about my preferences and interests. But in my experience, most loyalty programs don’t do much with that information. I get discounts and accrue rewards, but the offers are rarely customized to my interests or past transactions.

In this tweet jam, I want to get a sense of your experience with loyalty programs. More specifically, we’ll address the following questions:

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How Are You Using Social Marketing Management Tools?

Back in April I published a report called Take Control of Your Social Marketing, which looks at the emerging market of social marketing management tools.  In it, I identified three groups of these tools: the social publishing platforms, the social promotion builders, and the platforms that focus on both. 

In the two brief months since that report came out, the volume of questions I get about the topic has skyrocketed.  I can’t say this is surprising, as our own research is showing that many marketers are reaching a level of social marketing maturity at which tools like these can greatly increase the efficiency and success of their programs. There’s also been a lot of press coverage of the moves, changes, and announcements coming out of the vendors in this space, which has undoubtedly raised the profiles of these companies with marketers. 

  • In January, Vitrue, a company that falls into the “concentrating on both” category and which wasn’t able to participate in the original report, announced the closing of a $17 million series C financing round.
  • In February, Syncapse Corp.  made its own financing announcement -- an investment commitment of $25 million.
  • In March, SocialWare announced a partnership with LinkedIn that brings its regulatory compliance expertise and tools to the professionals’ social network.
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Join Forrester’s Tweet Jam About The Social Media Ecosystem: June 7th (Today!) At 2 pm Eastern

It’s Tuesday -- and that means it’s time for another installment of #IMChat, a weekly tweet jam hosted by the interactive marketing team at Forrester. For today’s tweet jam, we’ve invited Shawn Shahani (@shawnshahani) from iCrossing to talk with us about challenges and possible solutions for companies with large and complex social presences.

Here are some of the questions we'll be discussing:

1)     In which social networks does your company currently maintain presences?
2)     How are you using these social media properties differently?
3)     Do you have multiple presences within a social network?
4)     How do you separate multiple presences? Geography, brands, job function?
5)     Who manages different social media presences and properties?

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.

Looking forward to hearing from you at 2 p.m.!