What You Can Learn From Facebook's Approach And Mistakes In Building Mobile Services

I listened to the Mark Zuckerberg interview from the  TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco this week. 

There were a few choice quotes (I'll paraphrase them here - these are not literally a transcription. You can find the video/audio on the TechCrunch site):

"The biggest mistake we made (with our mobile services) was relying too much on HTML5 and for too long." 

"We finally realized that a good enough mobile experience would fall short. We needed a great mobile experience. The only path to great is native on iOS and Android." 

"Our mobile users are more engaged and use our services more frequently." 

"All of our code is for mobile."

"We'll build native code for iOS and Android." (And it is building for iOS first)

"Ads can't be standalone on a sidebar in mobile. They need to be integrated into our product." 

"We reorganized. A year ago, 90% of the code check-ins were from the core mobile team. Now 90% comes from other parts of the organization." 

"We reorganized. We were in functional silos. We now have product teams (responsible for delivery)." 

"A Facebook phone doesn't make any sense." 

Some context. Certainly, Facebook is unique with it being a media-centric company and very global. It does need mobile Web to reach much of its audience - now nearing 950M. For many companies, mobile Web will continue to be a relatively low-cost, broad-reach play to get to most of the phones. Mobile Web doesn't go away, but it is not where the differentiation will happen - at least in the near term. 

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The Missing Link In Social Media Use: Tracking Prospects

The University of Massachusetts released its annual survey of social media usage at Fortune 500 companies. The report revealed that in the past year, these business giants have increased their adoption of blogging by 5%, their use of Twitter for corporate communications by 11%, and their use of Facebook pages by 8%. Sixty-two percent of the 2012 F500 have corporate YouTube accounts, and 2% (11 companies) are posting on Pinterest. Sixty-six percent of the F500 are now on Facebook. Seventy-three percent of the F500 have active corporate Twitter accounts.  

However, what caught my attention was another recent survey that the University was also promoting on the same web page. This survey examined how universities use social media to attract students to their MBA programs. The study showed the same sort of increases that the F500 survey revealed. However, the headliner take-away from this research was “The Missing Link in Social Media Use Among Top MBA Programs: Tracking Prospects.”  The report concluded that “the missing link appears to be tracking those who first become interested in the program through one of the program’s social media sites. Being able to measure whether these prospects actually apply to the program is something schools may be looking to do, but have not yet mastered. Without this piece of information it is difficult to really assess the effectiveness of the social media plan and to know where future investments should be made.”

As I talk to companies in large and small companies about their lead-to-revenue processes, the most frequent topic over the past six months has been about leveraging social media in demand management programs. I’ve compiled a list of the most common questions and my perspective:

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How Social, Mobile, And Tablets Are Revolutionizing Consumer Banking

Everyone is talking about it, everyone is doing it, and everyone wants one. Social, mobile, and tablets are creating digital banking disruption and fundamentally shaking up how banks interact with and serve their customers. The rise of the digital channels has given banks a unique opportunity to drive lower-complexity, everyday tasks to digital channels while beginning to refocus live channels to provide guidance and support for more complex, relationship-building activities. Disruption brings opportunity both for you and for the disruptors, who are faster, stronger, and sometimes even better at giving customers what they really want, more conveniently than before. Disruptors are setting the pace for customer adoption of more complex digital financial services. So the question is, how do you turn digital disruption into opportunity and fundamentally rethink how social, mobile, and tablets can transform your consumer banking experience?

On October 25, at the Forrester eBusiness & Channel Strategy Forum in Chicago, I will be exploring how social, mobile, and tablets are empowering eBusiness professionals to revolutionize the retail banking environment. In this session, I will discuss how: 

  • Few financial services companies have fully explored social media. A comparative scan of social media marketing efforts shows that few financial services firms are using social media marketing effectively compared with other industries. Financial services firms haven't been blind to their customers' adoption of social tools, but it's clear that the industry hasn't fully embraced social technologies either.
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Customer Experience Disciplines Apply To Small Businesses, Too

I had fun last week speaking with talk show host Jim Blasingame, the “small business advocate.” (In fact, listening to the first segment of the show — embedded below — I was probably having a little too much fun at first.)

One reason I was keen to do the show is that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about showrooming. You’ve probably heard about showrooming — maybe you’ve done it yourself. It’s when a customer goes into a retail location to touch and feel a product and then goes online to buy the product at a lower price.

Showrooming causes a particularly acute problem for small business owners. Their very existence is at stake: Just last weekend, I walked by a small bookstore in Concord, Mass., and saw a sign in the window that said, “If you see it here, buy it here, to keep us here.”

I sympathize with that small store owner’s plight, so I’d like to offer some advice: Putting a sign in the window that begs people to buy from you is the wrong approach. Do customers want to “keep you here” because of convenience? Nope. They can get lower-priced products delivered the same day at little to no shipping cost. Do they want to add you to the list of charities they support? No, and you don’t want that either — you’re in business to make a profit, and you probably take pride in being able to do just that.

Here’s a better way to compete: Focus on delivering a superior customer experience. As a local business owner, you have the chance to know your customers better than any website can know them — even the increasingly sophisticated websites that make recommendations based on past behavior. If you develop that understanding and marry it with expertise about the products or services you offer, you’ll have a winning combination.

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Top 10 Ways To Improve Your Digital Customer Experience

Digital touchpoints such as websites, mobile phones, or tablets can drive revenue, lower costs, build brands, and engender customer loyalty. This shouldn’t be new news to anyone reading this. But to achieve these potential benefits, you need to deliver digital interactions that meet your customers’ needs in easy and enjoyable ways. That isn’t as easy as it sounds. Companies struggle on a daily basis to identify what digital experience improvements they need to make — and, once that’s nailed down, how exactly to make them.

In our recent report, Ron Rogowski and I outline the top tools and processes that can help you make digital customer experience improvements that matter. Want a preview? Read on.

The first set of recommendations will help you determine what it is you need to improve:

No. 10: Flex Your Analytics And Operational Data. Quantitative data from analytics platforms and internal operations systems — like those used in your call center — separates fact from fiction. In other words, it shows you customers’ real behavior patterns. Mining this data can uncover experience improvement opportunities.

No. 9: Conduct Expert Reviews Of Web, Mobile, And Tablet Touchpoints. Expert reviews, also known as “heuristic evaluations” or “scenario reviews,” are quick and inexpensive ways to determine what’s currently broken on your sites and apps. To conduct an expert review, you need to jump into the shoes of your customers and try to complete realistic tasks, all while looking for well-known customer experience issues.

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The Business Case For Personal Financial Management

Back in November 2006, a startup called Wesabe first showed the potential of online money management. Packaged personal financial management (PFM) software for PCs like Intuit's Quicken had existed for years, but Wesabe, Mint.com and a handful of other startups showed the value of using customer data, and community, to help people understand their finances better.

Since then, hundreds of banks, credit unions, wealth management firms, and other companies have launched a range of spending categorization, budgeting, peer group comparisons, and other money management features for their customers.* The leaders are increasingly making money management available in mobile and tablet apps, as well as on their websites. Fuelled by the poor state of many of the world's developed economies and growing use of digital channels, customer interest in online money management is substantial, as my colleague Reineke Reitsma wrote on her blog a few months ago.

Yet despite the growing number of firms that already offer money management, and the evident interest of some customers, many financial services eBusiness executives still question whether the business case adds up. Our new report on The Business Case For Personal Financial Management addresses that question. Here's what we found:

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Amazon Fires Up A Strong Tablet Lineup For The Holidays

At its event in Los Angeles today, Amazon announced five new Kindle models: an ultracheap E Ink Kindle; a new "paperwhite" Kindle with a touchscreen and LED light to compete with Barnes & Noble's Nook with Glowlight; an update of its 7-inch Kindle Fire with improved hardware and software; and two "HD" models, with 7-inch and 8.9-inch screen options. Amazon also announced that it would offer its own basic data plan (through AT&T) for its 4G Fire--a very disruptive move that puts pressure on OEMs and carriers to offer their own lower-price plans, and sets the stage for an expected Amazon smartphone launch next year.

With these products, Amazon is:

  • Upgrading its devices to match its service. Last year, Bezos emphasized the service over the device, and that was key to Amazon's success--consumers buy tablets for what they can do with them, which helps  explain why Amazon is the No. 2 tablet brand in the US. This year, with features like Dolby Digital Plus sound and what it calls a "Retina-class display," Amazon is bringing up the quality of the hardware to match the service, which is good for customer satisfaction and good for perception of Amazon's brand. Adding features like a front-facing camera, gyroscopes, and location APIs make Amazon's devices more appealing to developers, too.
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Royal Bank Of Canada, Citi, & Wells Fargo Top Forrester’s Digital Sales Rankings In 2012

Every year, Forrester employs its Website Benchmark (WSB) methodology to evaluate the effectiveness of North American banks’ digital sales efforts. This year, our evaluation has yielded two reports: 2012 Canadian Bank Digital Sales Rankings and 2012 US Bank Digital Sales Rankings. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) leads all of North America.RBC again took the top spot in the 2012 Canadian Bank Digital Sales Rankings, scoring 77 out of a possible 100. It continues to tweak and improve an already good design; the bank started a major redesign in 2009. RBC continues to excel in areas big and small: For example, the firm presents fulfillment options in an easy-to-read format (see screenshot below). In 2012, Royal Bank of Canada improved its navigation, content, and online application functionality, and its score for 2012 reflects that improvement.
  • Citi and Wells Fargo top the US banks.Citi and Wells Fargo topped Forrester’s 2012 US Bank Digital Sales Rankings by delivering on multiple levels. Both banks combine good usability with exceptional account-opening processes. For example, Wells Fargo uses presentation best practices to make its checking account fees clear to customers and prospects (see screenshot below).
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A Vision For Tomorrow's Consumer Data Ecosystem

PIDM Landscape Wordle

Eighteen months ago, when I started down the path of what would become our body of Personal Identity Management (PIDM) research, there were only a few customer intelligence professionals who gave much credence to the picture we were painting. What a difference a year makes. Today, privacy, data governance, consumer empowerment, and understanding "the creepy factor" are core to the conversations I have with CI pros in both marketer and vendor organizations. 

At the center of those conversations is often the question, "Who are the players in tomorrow's consumer data ecosystem?" We've just published a report, Making Sense of a Fractured Consumer Data Ecosystem, that reviews the strengths and weaknesses of four existing vendor categories plus three emergent business models. These include:

  • Consumer data giants: Companies, like Acxiom, Epsilon, Experian, and Infogroup, that have an opportunity to become consumer-friendly data managers but are at greatest regulatory risk
  • Reputation management providers: Companies, like Intelius and Reputation.com, that could help consumers manage data access but need to focus on their B2C business models to do so
  • Online services giants: Companies, like Google, MSN, and Yahoo, that already have access to highly personal data but serve too many masters
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Nielsen’s Vision Of The Future of TV Is Clear

In 2011, David Cooperstein and I wrote a report (client access required) about set-top box data (STB) and its potential to transform TV ad planning and buying in the US. In the report, we made the call that STB would take hold with local advertisers well ahead of national advertisers, due in part to Nielsen’s outdated diary methodology in local markets where digital, passive methodologies were not financially feasible.

Last month, we were invited down to Nielsen’s engineering headquarters in Tampa to hear about some of their most recent innovations in the ad measurement and effectiveness space. Nielsen’s methodology, through statistically sound and widely used by advertisers and TV networks, has not changed much since its inception, so I was excited to learn what they were doing to adapt their approach to measuring TV. 

Two of the big takeaways I had from my visit to Tampa were:

  • Nielsen has embraced STB data in all the right areas. Nielsen is actively working with STB data to augment their local, diary-based measurement offerings. Instead of waiting for multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs aka the new chic term for any cable/satellite/telco company) to sort out some of key problems with STB like data quality and sample size, Nielsen is using a hybrid approach that uses STB data combined with diary or meter data to a more stable measurement in small markets. Nielsen’s new hybrid approach addresses the gaps we outlined in our report and gives them the credibility to compete with new entrants like Rentrak and Kantar, which have been making inroads into the local measurement space.
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