A few minutes ago, Wildfire Interactive was purchased by Google for a reported $250 million. Of course, this is a lot of money, and a great exit for Wildfire investors, but what does it mean for social marketers, especially B2B social marketers? It is part of an ongoing trend of consolidation as many smaller vendors have been bought by major companies in the industry such as salesforce.com, Oracle, and now Google. Just looking at vendors I examined (with Kim Celestre) in our October 2011 Market Overview of Social Media Platforms for B2B Marketing (subscription required), many of them are no longer independent companies, and we expect this consolidation to only accelerate.
As a partial list, and please let me know if I missed any major acquisitions (of course, Yammer was bought by Microsoft, and Instagram by Facebook, but neither are external social marketing solutions for B2B marketers):
Involver, July 2012, Oracle
Collective Intellect, June 2012, Oracle
Vitrue, $300M, May 2012, Oracle
Buddy Media, $689M, May 2012, salesforce.com
Crowd Factory, April 2012, Marketo
Alterian, January 2012, SDL
Radian6, $350M, March 2011, salesforce.com
Unisfair, $35M March 2011, InterCall (West Corporation)
I had breakfast a week ago with Taleen Ghazarian, the VP of Strategy and Planning and Bob Zurek the new SVP of Products from Epsilon. The meeting was to re-introduce me to Zurek (full disclosure, he is a former Forrester analyst; worked on a lot of our CRM research several years ago) and brief me on his plans for Epsilon’s new platform. I think Epsilon’s focus on product innovation is overdue (no argument from Zurek or Ghazarian there). But I agreed with Zurek’s vision for where to take things. Specifically, his plans are:
Aggressive: Customers told us as part of our most recent email vendor Wave evaluation that they felt disappointed by Epsilon’s unfulfilled promise of a technology update. Well, Zurek’s charter is create a technology that not only updates any places where current Epsilon tools fall short, but to actually create a brand new platform that out performs any competitors. We’ll see of course, how it delivers. But I admired Zurek’s passion and commitment, and his recognition that Epsilon had to over perform here in order to stay competitive in the digital space.
Or, rather, is Facebook actually starting to realize that its place in the advertising ecosystem is just that – a place – not the whole answer, but rather a part of the answer?
If the recent news that Adometry will be allowed to place attribution tags inside the Facebook ecosystem is any indication, Facebook is starting to get the message.
I personally think this is a HUGE deal. Probably because I’ve been shouting about the absolutely critical need for multitouch attribution for years and years (yep, well before joining Forrester, I promise), and continue my shouting from both the page and stage.
At Forrester, we’ve always strived to help our clients address their challenges from a number of different angles, and now we’re formalizing this approach with an idea called playbooks. Each playbook we write is focused on one specific business challenge and is designed to give you every detail you’ll need to be successful.
Our interactive marketing research team is hard at work writing playbooks that cover mobile marketing, email marketing, digital media buying, and more — and I couldn’t be more pleased that our first interactive marketing playbook is the Social Marketing Playbook. We’ve worked to create a playbook that’ll help you:
Discover social marketing. You’ll see how firms like Unilever and De Beers defined a vision for fitting social into their marketing plans; you’ll be able to survey the social landscape around the world; and you’ll learn how marketers like Charles Schwab and NASCAR built the business case for social spending.
On its first quarterly earnings call, Facebook left it to Sheryl Sandberg to talk about how the company makes most of its money: marketing. And I was encouraged by how much she discussed the topic and how Sheryl stressed over and over the importance of proving ROI to advertisers. But I remain deeply unconvinced that Facebook can give marketers what they need, for two reasons:
Facebook thinks it can prove value in generalities. When Sheryl says she recognizes the importance of proving ROI to advertisers, she means that Facebook is trying to prove that Facebook marketing can work for advertisers in general — not that it does work for any one advertiser in particular. Facebook’s efforts here to date have been in generating a handful of case studies to which it can point: "Look! Facebook marketing worked for these three advertisers! That means it works!" But marketers don’t need proof that some Facebook marketing programs work; they need proof that their Facebook marketing program works. Better yet, they need to know which of their tactics are working and which aren't so that they can learn and improve. That would require better metrics for all marketers, rather than just a handful of case studies from a few marketers.
Too many firms are investing in mobile technologies without a road map. Most companies are investing in a wide range of mobile technologies, but only 40% of companies that Forrester interviewed have defined a mobile road map for the next 12 months. In fact, few firms have a detailed plan on how to create mobile products and services.
Implementing a mobile road map requires an iterative approach. To add new mobile services, product strategists must evaluate consumers’ mobile behaviors and attitudes, adapt their companies’ mobile business plans, refine their overall digital road maps, and assess the maturity levels of mobile technologies.
Successful mobile road maps require investment in supporting activities. Making specific investments in mobile education and skills development, maintaining organizational flexibility to increase speed to market, and adapting to local markets are key to the success of a mobile road map.
For example, the most advanced firms have a mobile steering committee in place — usually part of a broader digital governance team — with representatives from different business units, different roles, and different geographies. The role of such a governance body is not just to set the vision but also to prioritize and select mobile projects based on a clear list of criteria. One global brand’s mobile governance body, for example, identified up to 100 planned mobile initiatives. To select the best ones and rationalize investment, it put a framework in place with four simple questions for candidates to justify the funding of their projects: What benefits will it bring to consumers; what corporate objectives will it serve; what’s the business case; and what new features will be required in the second year?
Yahoo! announced tonight that Google's Marissa Mayer would take over tomorrow as Yahoo!'s CEO and President. Obviously Mayer has long experience in the space and brings good competitive knowledge, particularly related to search marketing. But I'm disappointed by this choice, here's why.
I've spent the day at Microsoft's unveiling of Office 2013 at the Metreon in San Francisco. This product has been years in the making. It was conceived before the iPad hit the shelves, and its improvements are largely PC-focused--Excel, Word, and PowerPoint deliver richer and more fully-featured experiences on the PC than ever before. It's a product that has adapted to the multi-device lifestyle, with user-based subscription pricing (Office 365) and cloud-streamed Web apps (Office on Demand)--but the PC is still the star, and tablets are an afterthought. Office does have a mobile strategy, but that's explicitly not the focus of this event today. Even Microsoft's own Windows 8 platform won't get native Metro apps for all the Office programs at launch. (The version of Office that will be available for Windows 8 and Windows RT at launch is touch-optimized but won't use the Metro UI, except for Lync and OneNote, which will be native "Windows 8-style" apps.)
Office is a $20 billion business, and Office 2013 is the best version of Office yet. It will sell millions of licenses to consumers and enterprises (Office 2010 has sold more than 100 million copies, and that doesn't include the millions of users who use pirated versions of Office). But products at the peak of their success can still be vulnerable to disruption, and Office 2013 certainly is, especially to competitors who put mobile first, and who deliver less-good experiences for cheap or free.
Today we officially launched Forrester's 6th annual Groundswell Awards! Since I cover B2B tech social media/online community research, I am always looking for interesting examples of how B2B companies are getting exceptional results using social media. I use the B2B Groundswell Awards winners in a majority of my client presentations, reports, and webcasts, and these best practices are often a highlight. After all, Forrester's Groundswell Awards winners inspire others to set the bar higher!
My colleague, Nate Elliott, provides some guidance to improve your odds of winning here. This year, we have added "mobile applications" in our B2B category. So make sure you consider your mobile programs in addition to your social media programs when you submit your entries!
It’s that time of year again! That is, it’s time to look back at the very best social programs your company has run in the past twelve months, and to prepare your entry to the Forrester Groundswell Awards. This year’s entries are due on September 5, 2012 – and you can enter using our online form. We’ll be presenting the awards at Forrester Forums in October.
We’ve been lucky enough to recognize some fantastic social applications since we started these awards back in 2007 – and we’d like for you to have a great chance of winning, too. To improve your odds, we recommend you focus on two key points:
1. Enter in the right category.This year we’ve got 17 categories spread across three divisions: Business to Consumer, Business to Business, and Business to Employee. (If you’ve entered in previous years, you’ll notice that our two B2C divisions – North America and International – have been combined into a single global division; and that our Management division has been renamed Business to Employee.) Choose the division that best describes your program’s audience (B2C, B2B or B2E), and then choose the award category that best describes the objectives of your program (for instance, Listening, Talking or Supporting). If you’re not sure which category fits best, you can review the descriptions of each category on our FAQ page.