Google Buying Social (Facebook) Campaign Vendor Wildfire Continues Consolidation Of Social Platform Vendors

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)
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Epsilon Emphasizes Email Product (At Last!)

 

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.

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Will Mobile Insurance Take Off ?

 

Despite the growing range and sophistication of leading (US) insurance companies’ mobile offerings, consumer adoption of mobile insurance services is still low. What makes the mobile solution relevant to the customer? Forrester has identified three elements that determine the convenience of a service or product: immediacy, simplicity, and context. For insurance, the mobile channel offers all three: 1) the immediacy of instant access to your insurance company when it matters, such as when an accident occurs; 2) the simplicity of completing tasks in just a few steps, such as filling out a claims form via your smartphone on location and accompanying it with photos of the incident; and 3) context, as mobile can give customers near-immediate directions and relief when a stressful event occurs. However, a big challenge remains: Do customers feel compelled in the first place to download an app for an event they probably don’t want to happen. We looked at data from Forrester’s North American Technographics® Financial Services Online Benchmark Recontact Survey Q3 2011 (US) and found that:

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Attribution Move Shows Facebook Is (Finally) Listening

Is Facebook finally getting over itself?

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.

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Design: Because Great Customer Experiences Don’t Happen By Accident

The discipline of design remains largely misunderstood in the business world. Let me dispel a couple of myths for you: Design isn't simply about picking the right shade of blue for the company logo. And it’s not solely the domain of black-turtleneck-wearing creative types.

Design is a straightforward and repeatable problem-solving process that incorporates the needs of customers, employees, and business stakeholders. It’s also a way of working that focuses on making and refining tangible solutions. Everyone in an organization can learn and leverage design to meet or exceed their customers’ needs and desires. That’s key, because great customer experiences don’t magically spring into existence — they need to be actively designed.

In Forrester’s soon-to-publish book, Outside In, Harley Manning and I illustrate the importance of design through a case study about Mayo Clinic. The physical layout of Mayo’s outpatient rooms has basically remained static over the past six decades. The equipment for physical examinations — the reclining table, dressing area, sink, and tools like scopes and blood-pressure cuffs — still dominates each room, but these days, the bulk of each appointment is simply a conversation between the doctor and patient.

A team working to improve the outpatient experience came up with the idea of creating separate consultation and exam rooms. But that solution wasn’t going to work. There simply wasn’t enough floor space in the Clinic’s facilities to accommodate the number of separate rooms required to serve patients.

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New Analyst On The Block

I’ve been on the CMO and marketing leadership team for almost two years, working behind the scenes with David Cooperstein, Luca Paderni, and Tracy Stokes on our research on marketing mix modeling/optimization and the shifting TV/video landscape. I’m pleased and excited to share with you that, moving forward, I will be an analyst on the CMO and marketing leadership team.

My first report as an analyst will look at gross ratings points (GRPs) as a viable standard from cross-platform marketing and delve into some of the ways we see the video and TV advertising marketplaces shifting.

For the remainder of the year, I will be working on our playbook on marketing mix optimization. If you are a senior marketer who is thinking about how to optimally allocate media budgets across the major channels, our upcoming playbook will help you strategically think about reaching your customers, organize the flow of marketing data into and out of your company, and be an agent of change to help your organization adopt data and customer-driven decision-making processes.

Future research will also dive into topics that include convergent video media planning, social TV, and second-screen advertising. Finally, at the start of next year I will lead the refresh of our Wave evaluation of the marketing mix modeling ecosystem. I am looking forward to getting to know many of you better and following the evolution of these exciting spaces.

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How To Approach Your Social Marketing Initiative

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.
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Facebook Still Doesn't Get Marketing

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:

  1. 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.
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B2B Marketers Have A Blind Spot: The Buyer Journey

Last month, I was immersed in face-to-face dialogue with senior B2B marketing leaders from well-known companies who were attending Forrester Forums and FLB events, and one thing was blatantly clear. These leaders are so focused on their initiatives, campaigns, and programs that they have lost sight of the thing that matters most: the customer.

In one setting, I led a discussion group about big data. Rather than debate what big data really means and how it can be captured, I focused on how it could be used. I asked the members to think about the different touchpoints their firm has with customers at each stage of the customer life cycle and how the experience delivered at each of those touchpoints could be better informed by the new types of data that are available today. Most struggled with it, because they are not used to thinking about interactions from the customers’ perspective. Instead, they think of it as actions by their marketing and sales teams.

Next, I had the opportunity to sit down for two days of one-on-one meetings with senior marketing leaders who were attending Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum. Naturally, they were asking about the B2B customer experience, so I asked each one how their company goes about capturing information about how their customers buy. The answer was the same: We don’t have much of that information today.

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Amazon.com: Friend or Foe?

As Amazon.com has grown aggressively in recent years, expanded into diverse businesses, and achieved profitability, its impact on the eBusiness and retail sectors is greater now than ever before. For many businesses, Amazon is simultaneously a sales channel, a potential service provider, and a competitive threat. To explore this complex relationship and to understand Amazon both today and where they are going next, my colleague Sucharita Mulpuru and I conducted many interviews with retail industry leaders, former Amazon leadership, and industry thought leaders – culminating in our latest report

In the report we look at Amazon’s significant influence on retailing in the US today, the key factors driving Amazon’s amazing growth, what we can expect from Amazon next, and how retailers can effectively compete and coexist with Amazon. We also look at Amazon’s vulnerabilities, including: 
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