Don’t Discount The Value Of Planning Tools To Your Online Testing Program

In the past 18 months I've spent a lot of time working with Forrester clients on many facets of online testing (that’s a/b and multivariate testing for those of you scoring at home) spanning vendor selection, organizing and developing skills for testing, and building processes to support testing.

One of the general trends in online testing has been the democratization of access to marketing users. I think this is a positive development because successful online testing is a team sport that requires collaboration across multiple departments and skillsets. However, pulling testing outside of the exclusive domain of analysts puts a lot of pressure on vendors to supply tools that are suitable for non-technical audiences. This means providing easy-to-use, guided functionality, collaboration features, campaign preview facilities, extensive object reuse, and modern interface designs. And, to varying degrees, vendors are making progress in the area of user experience to meet these needs.

I have noticed that one of the features that often gets short shrift is test planning tools. In my experience, planning functionality has come forward as a crucial – and underrated – feature in situations where marketers or non-technical users will be involved in the development and deployment of online testing campaigns. To explore this idea further, I just published a new piece of research titled "How CI Professionals Can Plan For Site Optimization Success."

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Participate In Our 2011 Social Data Survey

Do you use a listening platform? Maybe a social media monitoring tool? Or work with a social analytics vendor? All of the above? Well if you do, we need your help. Today we're kicking off the second annual report covering the many ways businesses use social media data. Our goal is to find out who uses social data, how they use it, and for which business purposes. To answer these questions, we've created a survey (available here and below) that will ask you about your experience with social listening tools.

Our survey last year created this report, and I'm eager to see how the market has changed over the last year. For example, last year we learned that most listening platform users conduct fairly basic tasks with the tool — such as brand or competitive tracking, or quick market research, as seen in the graph below. Now I want to see if, a year later, an increased percentage of companies use social data for more interactive tasks — such as sales or customer support.

This is a big annual project for us, and it's great fuel for my ongoing research, so please help us out and take this short (5-10 minute) survey on your use of social listening tools. In return, we will send you a free copy of the research — hopefully publishing in early October — with which you can benchmark your current work against the rest of the market, learn about new ways to use listening tools, and get an understanding of how to improve your social data practices.

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What Signal Does The Google-Motorola Marriage Send To Product Strategists?

It’s a couple of days after Google announced its intentions to jump headfirst into the hardware business. By now everyone — including my colleagues Charles Golvin and John McCarthy — have expressed their thoughts about what this means for Apple, Microsoft, RIM, and all of the Android-based smartphone manufacturers. This is not another one of those blog posts.

What I really want to highlight is something more profound, and more relevant to all of you out there who might classify your day job as “product strategy.” To you, the Google/Moto deal is just one signal — however faint — coming through the static noise of today’s M&As, IPOs, and new product launches. But if you tune in and listen carefully, two things become crystal clear:

  • The lines between entire industries are blurring. Google — and some of the other firms I mentioned above — are just high profile examples of companies that are diversifying their product portfolio, and the very industries in which they play. There are several instances of this over the past "digital decade." What's different now is the increased frequency of the occurrences.
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Summer 2011 Skips The Dog Day Doldrums

In my part of the country — as in many others — it was a very hot and stormy summer. And beyond the weather, I haven't seen the traditional late July and August slow period. Much of my summer has been spent working on the upcoming Web Analytics Wave report. While I've been focused on research, the analytics community apparently has had too much to do and has continued moving along at full speed.

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The Surprising Challenge Of CI

Hello, everyone. As a new analyst on Forrester's Customer Intelligence team, I'm taking over coverage of enterprise marketing platforms. I'll range everywhere from cross-channel campaign management to interaction management to analytics and optimization tools. 

I'm thrilled to join Forrester. We live in a time of extraordinary change in the way we conduct marketing. Businesses succeed and fail on how they bring the Customer Intelligence role to bear. I have the enviable task of following Suresh Vittal — who's since taken over the leadership of the CI role — as well as Dave Frankland, Zach Hofer-Shall, Fatemeh Khatibloo, Srividya Sridharan, and Joe Stanhope. As an aside, if we meet up, be sure to ask me the story of how Joe lured me to Forrester.
 
Extraordinary times imply that extraordinary challenges lurk underneath. CI professionals face the test of integrating data into a holistic view of customers. Recently in my report "CI Teams: Blocking and Tackling Is Not Enough," I dug into why data integration is such an omnipresent issue. As you might expect, a number of factors -- the explosion of touch points, the staggering amounts of data generated, budget, and skills -- contribute to the problem.
 
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