The Data Digest: Profiling Digital Natives

As part of our Demographic Overview series, we just published Digital Natives: A Demographic Overview; previously, we published research on digital dads and digital moms. For readers who haven’t heard the term before, Digital Natives are the individuals currently ages 12 to 17, and they will soon become the most sophisticated consumers in the digital world. Forrester defines Digital Natives as “individuals who have grown up in the age of technology and cannot imagine a life without computers, cell phones, and social networking.”

With the increasing numbers of these Digital Natives, it is imperative that companies get to know them — and the earlier the better. They adopt digital technology faster than older generations; they can’t imagine a life without digital “essentials”; and they combine these digital activities in sophisticated ways.

For example, Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that boys, on average, spend 6.1 hours playing video games per week, and when they have discussions on social networks, video games are the No. 1 topic. Moreover, despite having little disposable income yet, more than one-third of Digital Natives have either researched or purchased a product or service online in the past three months.

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When Was "You're Welcome" Replaced With "Uh-Huh"?

One of the essential differentiators of great customer service experiences is the human interaction.

Some folks want a chatty interaction with a full narrative on the weather. Others just want quick and friendly contact. But the bottom line is this we all want to have an experience that leads us to feel appreciated. This human interaction is key element to one of the three tenets of our Customer Experience Index: "How enjoyable were they to do business with?"

I considered this recently while at my neighborhood pharmacy. The company offers best-in-class customer service technology. They proactively remind me of prescription refills, they have a sophisticated mobile app, and their store layout is easy to navigate.

But I am invariably invited from the queue to the cash register by a shout of "Next!" and the only words offered to me are the sum I owe. For all their best-in-class retail and mobile strategies, I never walk away feeling that the company is enjoyable to do business with. Instead, I walk away wondering when was "you're welcome" replaced with "uh-huh"?

A great customer service experience is the result of the right technology, processes, and the human factor. To ensure the human factor isn’t marginalized, eBusiness leaders must:

  • Embed the ideal customer experience in your culture. Make it clear what customer service exchange will reflect your brand. Be explicit. Train and reward employees to personify your ideal brand experience.
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The Guts To Grow: What Amazon.com, Trader Joe's, And Westin Hotels Have In Common

I received a curious email from one of the founders of eBags the other day. In it, he said that by bringing customer service back to the US and away from an offshore vendor, the company actually reduced customer service costs by 34% (yes, reduced!) while still growing sales by double digits in Q4. It reminded me of another article not too long ago from the Wall Street Journal that cited Qantas as having one of the world’s best check-in experiences because the airline invested in RFID tags for passengers, a decision that the article pointed out no other airline has yet copied. These examples stood out to me because these companies managed to pull off a very difficult trick: to make contrarian investments that industry peers would consider hogwash that nonetheless pay off in spades. It’s more likely that such investments would backfire, but when they work, they succeed beautifully. Three cases in point: 

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Facebook Or Google: Who Will Win the Customer Engagement Battle?

Plenty’s been written already about Facebook’s IPO filing yesterday. I won’t rehash the many excellent analyses that you’ve surely already seen.

Instead, I want to take this blog post into thought-experiment territory. I want to think about a world in which Google and Facebook are primary competitors in a mano-a-mano battle—not just for our eyeballs, but for our data, too. For the right, as it were, to be our “digital identity.”

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Over the holidays, my mother—67 year old tech-accepter, Kindle-owner, smartphone-avoider—called me into the office to show me her Facebook newsfeed. “How,” she asked, “do they know that I’m interested in Persian classical music and that I live in Los Angeles?” As I was explaining behavioral targeting and computational advertising, I glanced over at the computer, only to see her click through and order tickets from that Facebook ad.

So I asked, “Do you trust Facebook?” To which she replied, “Of course not!” as she entered her credit card number, home address, and email address for a very spendy concert ticket.

“Do you trust Google?” I asked. “More than Facebook, I suppose,” she answered. “But Facebook shows me stuff I like more often than Google does.” 

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That experience, plus a brainstorm with my colleagues on the Customer Intelligence team here at Forrester got me thinking: What if, as a consumer, you had to choose between Facebook and Google? Which service is more valuable to you? Which will BE more valuable in the future? I decided to compare the competitors (and let there be no mistake—Facebook’s S-1 filing very clearly identifies Google as Enemy No. 1) across the dimensions of Forrester’s customer engagement cycle:

 

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Mobile Websites and the Interactive Marketer

Whether we like it or not, consumers are visting websites from their mobile devices.  Marketers confronted by this reality tend to react in two ways: they panic or disregard the information altogether.  The problem is, when it comes to mobile websites, interactive marketers have a lot of questions.  Over the next 6 weeks, I'll be taking a deep dive into mobile websites and write research that tells marketers what they need to know before investing time, resources and marketing dollars.  Key questions for the report will include:

  • What is a mobile website and what interactive marketing purpose does it serve?
  • How and when do consumers visit sites from their mobile devices?
  • What type of content do you need on the site?
  • How are brands using mobile websites successfully today?
  • How do you optimze a site over time?

I'd also like to hear from you.  What questions do you have?  What do you need to know when it comes to mobile websites?  Email them to me at elshaw@forrester.com and look for a follow-up post where I'll include some highlights and key findings when the report publishes. 

Why Facebook Is Still A Tough Sell For Retailers

As the Facebook IPO nears, all eyes are on the valuation the company will command.   The vast majority of that valuation will come from the company’s digital advertising business.  As for commerce, don’t expect much.  About a year ago, I asked the question Will Facebook Ever Drive eCommerce? and the answer hasn’t significantly changed in the time since.  Not only has Facebook seemingly been much more focused on the display ad side of the business all but dismissing retail (they rejected a keynote slot at the annual Shop.org summit last year and rumor has it that they turned down the slot following Bill Clinton at this year’s National Retail Federation big show, the trade show in all of retail), but the numbers that retailers have shared with us are no more encouraging:

  • Stores or fan pages on Facebook have yet to generate any significant revenue for companies as few shoppers visit brand pages or Facebook stores after becoming a fan
  • Few shoppers buy after seeing information posted on Facebook; a holiday study we did with GSI Commerce showed that less than 1% of revenue from retailers was attributable to social networks
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Ways Manufacturers Can Drive Higher Conversion Rates Through The Online Retail Channel

In a keyword-driven Web world, brand manufacturers get more than their fair share of Web shopping traffic.  But because most manufacturers maintain a relatively small direct-to-consumer business, they largely rely on online retail partners to convert leads that originate on their websites.  Disintermediated from the final sale, manufacturers often know little about how to optimize the lead referral process that begins on their own websites.

To gain some valuable insight into how manufacturers can help optimize sales conversions downstream, Forrester teamed up with Channel Intelligence, a company that tracks the purchase path of leads from manufacturers’ websites to online retailers’ websites.  Forrester and Channel Intelligence analyzed over 44 million clicks across 150 manufacturer websites spanning two full years of closed-loop sales data (2010-2011).  In our new report, “Top Three Ways Manufacturers Can Drive Higher Conversion Rates Through the Online Retail Channel,” we identify clear best practices from the clickstream analysis.  A sample of key findings:     

  • Be direct and aggressive with “Buy” button language and placement. For example, manufacturers that put the word “buy” first on a purchase button see 53% higher average conversion rates downstream at online retail websites than those that display the word “buy” as the second or third word (e.g. Where To Buy).
  • Be maximally transparent on price.  Manufacturers that display both MSRP and actual retail prices experience a 111% higher conversion rate downstream on online retail websites than those manufacturers that show an MSRP but no actual online retail prices.
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Why Google's Privacy Changes (And The 'Data Tidy Up') Moves Everything Forward

Google has handled its privacy debate by being disarmingly clear with a little note left on the fridge the other week.

We’re tidying up and love data too much to not want to connect it better.

Like it or lump it.

Love Google.

It’s their right - they are after all a private company and not the public service we somehow feel them to be. Google wants to “create a beautifully simple, intuitive user experience” and its data consolidation is what will help it do this. Facebook makes one product called Facebook while Google up until now has chosen to run many nom de plumes, betas, and side initiatives. I’d like to see a more capable ‘joined up’ Google sparring with Apple and Facebook on who can do the coolest and most useful things for people using data. In truth, the Google engineering team must be relieved to ditch the sticking plasters and chewing gum connecting the hitherto disparate data sets they manage.

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