The Who And How Of Customers’ Technology Decisions

 

Tech marketers often fret over their marketing mix, but it’s usually couched in terms of “how” – e.g., “How do customers get information about us?” or, “Do we have the right mix of web content, events, blogs and [now, of course] social media conversations?”

We know that all those “how” things are not equal. Customers utilize web content more than events, and events more than blogs. But every bit as important (if not more), and sometimes not taken into consideration, is the “who” of the “how.” In general, customers highly value tech vendors’ websites and events, industry analysts’ research reports and blogs, channel partners’ online videos, and social media conversations with peers. But customers’ go-to information source preferences vary by industry, company size, and geography. [For more information, see the Forrester report on “The Who And How of Influencing Customers’ BT Decisions.”]

With social media stacked on top of websites stacked on top of events stacked on top of collateral … well, I don’t have to tell you how complex marketing-mix allocation budgeting has come to be. But designing your mix model on a “who-what” framework simplifies the model, and goes a long way to ensuring that you’re investing in the information sources that customers are tapping. 

Break Down The Walls Of Shopper Marketing

As the economic malaise lingers on, a more frugal consumer mindset is spurring consumers to embrace new digital technologies to make more informed buying decisions. This shift in behavior is releasing shopper marketing from the confines of the store walls, as consumers make purchase decisions at home and on-the-go. Once a tactical outpost in the sales organization, shopper marketing is now being embraced by forward-thinking marketers like Kellogg’s and Clorox, which are focused on getting on their consumer’s shopping list before she even gets to the store. But with this new opportunity comes potential organization confusion. Where does shopper marketing end and brand marketing begin? And where should it sit in the organization? Check out my report, “Shopper Marketing Breaks Out Of The Store,” to find out how consumers' shopping habits are changing, how retailers are responding, and what it means for brand marketers.

How is your consumer shopping differently? And how is shopper marketing changing your organization? Answer here or join the discussion on The Forrester Community For CMO & Marketing Leadership Professionals here.

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Forrester’s Tech Radar Assessment Of 24 Contact Center Technologies For Customer Service

The contact center technology ecosystem for customer service is a nightmare of complexity. At a high level, to serve your customers, you need to:

  1. Capture the inquiry, which can come in over the phone, electronically via email, chat, or SMS, and over social channels, like Twitter, Facebook, or an interaction escalated from a discussion forum.
  2. Route the inquiry to the right customer service agent pool.
  3. Create a case for the inquiry that contains its details and associate it with the customer record.
  4. Find the answer to the inquiry; this can involve digging through different information sources like knowledge bases, billing systems, and ordering databases.
  5. Communicate the answer to the inquiry to the customer.
  6. Append case notes to the case summarizing its resolution and close the case.
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The Big, Gray, Squishy, And Constantly Moving Line Of Social Data Privacy

Last week at Facebook's developer conference, the massive social network announced a few big changes. Loosely veiled in the enhanced features is a startling amount of new data, giving Facebook even more capabilities to track and learn from consumers sharing behavior, networks, purchases, songs they listen to, and so on.

While there were no direct announcements about what this means for marketers, it's still brought a fair amount of discussion around social marketing, customer data, and the future of consumer privacy online. Last week I tweeted a link to this summary (and pointed out the URL's passive aggressive analysis). But since then, the concerns around Facebook's use of data have only increased. So what does this mean to Customer Intelligence professionals?

The way I talk about customer privacy and social data - the information you can collect and manage from social media channels - is that it's a big, gray, squishy, and constantly moving line. It's not black and white. It's not a thin line. And the overall sentiment about how privacy online works seems to shift constantly. The best thing Customer Intelligence teams can do today is to make sure they're on the right side of that line.

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Facebook Changes The Social Networking Game . . . Again

If there’s one thing Facebook is not afraid of, it’s change. Today at its annual F8 conference Facebook announced some dramatic changes to its platform. But this time it’s different. Why? Because the big social networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and now Google) have traditionally battled over the social graph – your relationships in the digital world and how to help build and connect them, but now Facebook is laying claim to your life. Through its new Timeline feature that recaps in one fell swoop everything you’ve ever posted and lets you feature the highlights, along with its new apps that let you discover and  share real-time experiences like watching movies and listening to music, Facebook is changing the social networking game. Of course you could argue that it was already acting as the online identity for many people, but this takes it to a whole new level.

This could also open up some big doors to marketers such as:

  • Word of mouth on steroids. As the ability to share experiences matures, companies that are effective in getting influentials to speak on their behalf will succeed more. This will make two key skills even that much more important in the future: 1) providing great product experiences that people will share; and 2) getting customers to become advocates who share on your behalf over the long term.
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Why Don't European Marketers Spend More On Social Media?

European marketers are as excited about social media today as ever before. In fact, according to our annual survey, three-quarters of interactive marketers in Europe either already use social media or plan to use it by the end of 2011 – and they expect social media marketing to grow in effectiveness more than any other online or offline marketing channel in the coming years. But there’s a problem: European marketers still aren’t spending very much on social programs. In fact, a quarter of the marketers in our survey plan to spend less than €35,000 on social media this year – and many of the rest won’t spend much more than that. And most European marketers said they had no plans to increase their social media budget this year compared to last.

I think this lack of spending is both a symptom, and a cause, of problems inherent in how European marketers use social media:

  • It’s a cause, because the resources aren’t there. One of the biggest problems social media marketers face right now is a lack of resources. When it comes to social media they have trouble finding budget, staff, time, and even good help from their agencies. And that actually makes a lot of companies afraid of success. You’d be surprised how often I hear statements like "I want to start a Facebook page, but what if it takes off? I don’t have the budget to staff it full time!" When marketers are afraid of success, rather than failure, then you know you’ve got a problem.
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Define Your Social Ecosystem

One of the many interesting topics of discussion we get into in our Social Business Strategy workshops is around the social ecosystem. This is the name I have given the collection of business capabilities potentially enhanced by one or more social technologies.

First let me define social technologies. Note I’m using the word “technology” quite deliberately in place of the more common term “social media” because social media is too often associated with consumer-facing technology as deployed in support of marketing. In defining the entire social ecosystem I prefer the more generic “technology”. I define social technology as “any technology that enables one-to-many communications in a public forum (or semi-public if behind a security firewall)”.

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What Will Business Processes Look Like In 2020?

Have you ever thought seriously about the future of business processes? If not, it’s time to. With trends coming at us fast and furious — business transformation, the age of the customer, mobility, cloud, social, process outsourcing — processes of the future will look very different from how we work today.

Forrester is in the process (pardon the pun) of looking at business processes in 2020. We’ve interviewed 10 major thought leaders at large global organizations and a number of systems integrators and vendors in the BPM space. Wow, have we learned a lot from these deep thinkers! Many of the trends they identified are already being actively worked on in their companies — so these are not just pipe dreams — and include:

  • A major strategic alignment between business process transformation and customer experience
  • Very little concern about technology issues — because they believe the technology will work well (and this is not what keeps them up at night even now)
  • A major focus on standardizing processes across the globe so that work can easily flow to the lowest-cost labor at any given moment
  • The belief that processes will run in the cloud (private or public) and that businesses will consume processes-as-a-platform
  • A strong conviction that IT will largely vanish into the business
  • The need for access to global talent pools driving some of the need for business process transformation
  • The expectation that being dynamic and turning on a dime will be critically important
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