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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Disjointed, Chaotic, Confused, In Flux: Do These Words Describe Your Demand Generation Efforts?

In several of my recent reports, I've made claims about the current state of B2B demand generation. Call me Mr. Doom And Gloom, but from my perch, and from my experience in B2B sales and marketing, it's not a pretty picture. To back up my claims, I decided to survey B2B marketing and sales leaders to gather some data points on the real state of affairs.

Just for kicks, I asked people to give a word or phrase that summarizes their view of the state of demand generation, and the word that appeared most frequently in the responses was "disjointed." Hmmm, how fitting. And there's no shortage of contexts for how that word fits. Disjointed between sales and marketing, disjointed channels, disjointed messages. Shall I continue or enough said? Some of the other words and phrases offered are:

  • Challenging
  • Chaotic
  • Confused
  • Evolving
  • In flux
  • In transition
  • Too much noise

Some of the other findings? 

  • In 42% of companies, marketing creates leads and sales tools and throws them over the wall to sales.
  • Fewer than one-fourth of respondents have defined a lead-to-revenue management process that their marketing and sales teams follow.
  • Forty-four percent of respondents say that prospects view communications from them as "disjointed" or "hit or miss."

The good news is that B2B marketing and sales leaders are planning to make big changes over the next 12 months to address many of today's shortcomings. For more stats and insight into what their plans are, see my report The State Of B2B Demand Generation: Disjointed.

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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Cannes Lions 2011 Redux: Advertising Creativity Is In The Midst Of An Evolution, Not A Revolution

For one week every year, the South of France becomes the center of the advertising universe. Now in its 58th year, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has slowly but surely transformed itself from an advertising awards show into an event that brings together the world’s leading minds on advertising, film, music, and technology to debate the future of advertising.

To the uninitiated, Cannes Lions is a seven-day festival that recognizes and showcases the most creative advertising from around the world in every medium: film, digital, radio, print, outdoor, design, promotions, and integrated campaigns. The entire week is packed with screenings of all of the work, more than 50 seminars, 20-plus workshops, and, of course, the award ceremonies. This year it attracted more than 9,000 registered attendees and garnered almost 29,000 competition entries.

Here are a few of my takeaways and highlights from the Cannes Lions Festival 2011:

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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!

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eBusiness Customer Service Conversations From The CXP Forum

This year’s Forrester CXP Forum was two days filled with provocative speakers, interesting conversations, tough questions, and inspiring ideas.

I enjoyed spending most of the two days doing analyst One-on-One sessions. For those of you who haven’t attended a Forrester forum, forum participants sign up to speak with analysts to discuss topics of their choice in 20-minute sessions. From an analyst perspective, these conversations can be rich with insight into today’s business challenges and opportunities. Here are some of the common themes that emerged in my conversations with eBusiness leaders about online customer service:

  • Shifting CSRs from the phone to chat. I had many conversations with forum attendees who share a common question: The percentage of customer contacts going to chat is growing, so should they shift customer service reps from the phone to chat? Many companies have done this successfully. The challenge is that there are different skills required by chat compared with the phone. Chat reps will need typing speed and impeccable grammar. These are skills that can be tested. They will also need to be comfortable with chat. I’ve spoken with customer care people who said they found the transition to be challenging because they were not accustomed to an interaction that resulted in customers having an instant transcript. eBusiness leaders should also consider guidance around tone and engagement as part of their chat training program.
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Can You Hear Us? Where Are You?

So, I just got back from Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum in New York. This year, it was at the Marriott Marquis, right in the heart of Times Square. Now, if you’re like me and have lived in a rural (ok, backwoods) town for the past 10 years, Times Square can be pretty overwhelming. You feel like you’re wading through a sea of people with every step. You hear more languages and see more diverse cultures in a block than in an around-the-world trip. And the neon and pictures and street-hawkers and . . . and . . . and. It’s total information overload.

Even worse, I had arranged to meet clients in the middle of this chaos. I was lost and running late. The call was short but clear: “Can you hear us? We’re here. Where are you? We need to leave soon.”

For many market insights professionals, my experience in Times Square is a microcosm of reality. Many have been stuck in the back office, already struggling to meet present stakeholders' needs. Suddenly, you're thrust into an overwhelming sea of new data sources with an executive mandate to find the customers and figure out their needs. Worse, if you don’t do this quickly, your customers are going to leave.

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The Customer Experience Ecosystem — Visualized!

Last week at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum, I gave a keynote titled "The Customer Experience Ecosystem," which is a framework for helping companies understand the complex set of interdependencies that are ultimately responsible for shaping all customer interactions.

After the forum, I gave an encore presentation to a group of customer experience leaders at Fidelity Investments. The coolest thing about this meeting? Fidelity had engaged an artist from Collective Next to help it visualize the outputs of the session. Fred Leichter, Fidelity’s chief customer experience officer, told me that these visualizations help the team members see and think about their work in a more creative way.

So as I spoke, master scribe Marsha Dunn illustrated my presentation:

For those of you who heard my keynote, I hope this helps you keep some of my main points top of mind. You can also download my keynote slides on our event site.

For anyone who was unable to attend the forum, let me know if this piques your curiosity about customer experience ecosystems — I’m happy to fill you in on the details! Or, check out the full report.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to map your own customer experience ecosystem, please join my teleconference on Wednesday, August 17, 2011, 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Eastern time (18:00-19:00 UK time).

Effective Sales Enablement Depends On Your Definition Of "Sales"

During the first week of June, we had one of our quarterly Sales Enablement Leadership Council meetings in Barcelona, Spain. (A leadership council is comprised of executives from leading companies who work with us to set the direction for the near-term and long-term role of sales enablement.) For an entire day, we discussed the application of Forrester’s SIMPLE framework, which is a model designed to help combat the random acts of sales support that persist within most B2B companies, to common sales enablement leadership challenges.

The sheer volume of insight, ideas, new research topics, and techniques shared during that session was tremendous – far too much to share in one blog post. So, I am going to pick two issues that came up.

First off, Tamara, I hear you. I was told point blank that I need to participate in the social community more. I’m going to make a more dedicated effort to do this moving forward, but I need your help. Please tell me what you’d like me to share and how. Honestly, I get a little caught up around the axle about the many deliverable formats I’m responsible for (research reports, teleconferences, conference presentations, facilitating council meetings, client deliverables, etc.) so I would love the coaching from the community on what would be the most useful.

Secondly, at the beginning of our council meeting, we had a good discussion about where the sales enablement profession is heading. I’ve written a very detailed document defining the scope and role of sales enablement strategically, but there is an easier way to summarize the trends based on how you define the word “sales.”

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