Goodbye Advertising, Hello Content Marketing?

I thought my television remote was broken the other day. I'd gotten to the part of the TV show where there was a pause in the programming. Loud and colourful 30-sec adverts started dancing across my screen, pushing everything from shampoo for women with blonde hair (note my picture, I'm a brunette) to car insurance (I don't own a car). I was hitting the fast-forward button, but nothing happened. I got as far as taking the back off of the remote to jiggle the batteries when I realised I was watching live programmed TV and I COULDN'T SKIP THE ADS.

Watching live telly, this is just something I have to put up with for now, but online is a different story. From the films we stream online to the playlists we create and share with our friends within digital music services -- consumers are now willing to pay for ad-free content in a way that we couldn't have conceived of five years ago. Forrester's Online Paid Content Forecast, 2012 To 2017 (EU-7) shows that with successful paid services for music, video, games, and news now available in Europe, the number of online content buyers in Western Europe is set to grow between 8% and 12% over the next five years, and revenue from paid content is set to grow 65% -- from €6,2 billion in 2012 to €10,2 billion by 2017.

What does this mean for marketers?

You will have fewer chances to reach consumers with traditional advertising

The very services driving growth in digital content consumption are limiting pure advertising opportunity for brands, by adopting payment models that don't require brand advertising for revenue and even driving consumer appetite for more ad-free content.

Brands must develop content capabilities to avoid losing ground

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Does Ranting On Twitter Really Change Anything? It Should.

Yodel is the UK courier company everybody loves to hate and official delivery partner of many of our top online retailers including Amazon.com. Just back in August, Mothercare and Matalan joined John Lewis in ditching the supplier due to overwhelming customer pressure. UPDATE: Yodel got in touch to point out that the reasons these retailers no longer work with Yodel are unknown and that Yodel does not believe it to be due to customer pressure]  — pressure that miserable customers are consistently applying across social media and Amazon’s own online sites begging Amazon to stop using the courier. So widespread is Yodel despair — and trust me, one bad interaction with Yodel can leave one feeling despair — that an Amazon shareholder wrote to the company’s investor relations department in the US to raise the issue, reported The Guardian.

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Q&A With Veronique Tordoff, UK Market Customer Experience Leader, Philips Electronics

Companies are grappling to maintain their traditional sources of competitive advantage in the age of the customer a world where empowered consumers, commoditized products, and intense competition stretch organizational capabilities to their limits. Enter the customer-obsessed CMO who can transcend the operational status quo and lead a companywide journey to establish new sources of competitive advantage. In my presentation at Forrester’s Outside In: A  Forum For Customer Experience Professionals EMEA  in London next week (November 6th to 7th), I will be explaining how CMOs can positively change the corporate culture around customer obsession. I will also be leading the track “Why We Need To Build A Customer-Obsessed Corporate Culture,” which takes a closer look at the challenges involved.

In preparation for the event, I caught up with one of our industry speakers from this track, Veronique Tordoff, UK market customer experience leader, Philips Electronics, to talk about how Philips Electronics is dealing with these challenges. Check out a preview of Veronique’s session in the below Q&A, or join me in London to hear the full story.

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Hurricane Sandy Scorecard: NSTAR 1, Verizon 0

Like millions of Americans who live along the Eastern seaboard, my family got hit by Hurricane Sandy.

Now don’t get me wrong: Compared with residents of New York, New Jersey, and several other states, we had it easy in our little suburb north of Boston. Even so, there were a few exciting episodes, like this tree that fell on my neighbor’s house.

Fallen tree on power lines

And then there was this power line that came down on the sidewalk across the street from our home, about 4 feet from where I had been standing 20 minutes earlier (I had been talking to a firefighter).

What fascinated me, however, was what came after all the excitement: service recovery by our electrical utility and telecom provider.

Let’s start with our local electric utility, NSTAR. As you can probably guess from the above, our power had to be cut. To restore it, NSTAR needed to coordinate with both our local fire department and our local public works department in order to get that giant tree off the power lines before it could repair them.

When I looked at the job ahead for the utility, I guessed that we would be without power for at least a day. But exactly 12 hours after NSTAR cut power so that the burning lines wouldn’t pose a hazard, the tree was gone and our electricity was restored. In fact, NSTAR beat its own estimate by about 90 minutes.

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Hurricane Sandy Reminds Us How To Speak To Customers During A Crisis (Or Not)

 Major events — political, natural, or economic — create a lot of eyeballs on a select set of media and stories. But as friends chimed in on Facebook, Twitter, and texts, they shared stories of who stood by them during the crisis. My colleague David Cooperstein and I were discussing what marketers did and should do during a crisis. Do your customers need to hear from you during Hurricane Sandy? We’ve seen a few best practices from companies that are handling communications in a helpful and dignified way. We hope they are useful to our readers in charge of customer communications, both this week and in general.

  • USAA's mobile app reduces angst. The USAA Mobile App allows customers to report a property or auto claim, submit photos, and view claims status. Storm-related tweets featured a link to the app so that customers knew how to find it and submit a claim. One friend of mine was able to submit a claim, including photos, in about 2 minutes, allowing him to focus on cleaning up the debris. Its relative ubiquity — available for the iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, and BlackBerry — means that any USAA customer with a smartphone can take advantage of these game-changing and life-managing services.
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Hurricane Sandy Reminds Us How To Speak To Customers During A Crisis (Or Not)

Major events — political, natural, or economic — create a lot of eyeballs on a select set of media and stories. But as friends chimed in on Facebook, Twitter, and texts, they shared stories of who stood by them during the crisis. My colleague Christine Overby and I were discussing what marketers did and should do during a crisis. Do your customers need to hear from you during Hurricane Sandy? We’ve seen a few best practices from companies that are handling communications in a helpful and dignified way. We hope they are useful to our readers in charge of customer communications, both this week and in general.

  • USAA's mobile app reduces angst. The USAA Mobile App allows customers to report a property or auto claim, submit photos, and view claims status. Storm-related tweets featured a link to the app so that customers knew how to find it and submit a claim. One friend of mine was able to submit a claim, including photos, in about 2 minutes, allowing him to focus on cleaning up the debris. Its relative ubiquity — available for the iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, and BlackBerry — means that any USAA customer with a smartphone can take advantage of these game-changing and life-managing services.
  • Citi Cards and American Express send emails to offer personal assistance. In a service message to customers today, Citi Card anticipates their needs and offers relevant services like access to cash, fee waivers, and general instructions for getting help. Similarly, American Express offered affected customers help with emergency financial, travel, or medical services. The message from both is targeted, helpful, and intentionally brief — creating the right tone and value in the middle of a crisis.
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Windows Phone 8 - What Does It Mean For eCommerce Professionals?

I attended the Windows Phone media event in San Francisco today. The filter I put on was, "What does this mean for the eBusiness professional?" VERY few of the executives we have surveyed are building experiences or applications for the Windows platform today (and yes, you could argue that in part that is because they knew Windows Phone 8 was coming and wouldn't be backwards-compatible, but, honestly, mostly it is because there are so few Windows phones in the US relative to Android and iOS). Only 21% of the executives we surveyed a year ago were using Windows with another 27% planning to do so (see this report). 

There is a lot of talk - mostly at a high level - about how you have to define different experiences for iOS and Android because expectations are different, consumers use the devices differently, etc. The most interesting aspect of the Windows Phone 8 event today was the "live" tiles. I have seen similar in the past with Nokia devices - streaming Facebook updates, news, etc. to "live" tiles on my home screen.

What I haven't seen yet is a good use case for "live tiles" for eBusiness professionals. Everyone is chatting about push-based notifications - they are contextual, they deep-link into the application, they drive usage of the application, etc. These "live" tiles with streaming content or media could be even more interesting. Microsoft today showed examples with Groupon and other discount/deal providers. As a bank, you don't want to display someone's balance. As an insurance provider, you don't want to post "a bill is due" or "we're not paying out your claim." You might want to post content around hurricanes and the potential danger. Retailers and travel companies can post deals. 

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Q&A With Randy Pond, EVP, Operations, Processes, And Systems, Cisco Systems

In response to many requests to feature more business-to-business (B2B) content at our events, next month’s Outside In: A Forum For Customer Experience Professionals will feature several B2B keynote presenters, including Randy Pond, EVP of operations, processes, and systems at Cisco Systems. In preparation for the event, I caught up with Randy to talk about his keynote and the importance of championing the voice of the customer at Cisco. Check out a preview of Randy’s session in the below Q&A, or join me in Los Angeles, November 14th to 15th, to hear Cisco’s full story.

Q: What gets in the way of delivering the right experience to your customers?

First, in some areas, I believe we lack consistent policy and practices in the business that we can inspect, enforce, and govern.  It’s a combination of the legacy of our entrepreneurial spirit, drive to market, and speed to market. The second is related to the fact that we have a regular influx of acquired companies that we have to embed into our offering, scale into the marketplace, and turn loose to our customers. This can get us into trouble when we may not have the same sense of urgency when we release products. As well, there is a big push on the sales team to get new products moving and out to customers and a big pull from our customer base to get these new offerings in the marketplace. And that stretches our ability to make them as effective and easy to use as we would like. 

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On eCommerce In South Africa And Beyond

I recently had a chance to catch up with another global eCommerce enthusiast: Hendrik Laubscher works for PriceCheck, a price comparison site in South Africa owned by MIH Internet Africa. He and I sat down for a coffee to talk all things developing eCommerce markets. A few things that came out of our conversation:

In South Africa, payments and broadband connectivity remain hurdles to eCommerce adoption. South Africa, the continent’s largest eCommerce market, remains at a relatively early stage, with several inhibitors preventing the market from truly flourishing.  Although credit and debit card usage is growing, overall penetration remains low, even in comparison to other large emerging markets. PayPal offerings have been a challenge, as well — currency issues and restrictions that required users to be registered FNB online banking customers prevented many from taking advantage of this payment method.  Additionally, the country’s low overall Internet penetration — in particular, broadband penetration — also presents hurdles. The CEO of Woolworths in South Africa recently said that faster, cheaper broadband was essential for eCommerce to flourish, but estimated that this scenario remained “about four years off.”

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Why Did Forrester's 2012 B2B Groundswell Award Winners Win?

Now that the confetti has been swept off the floor of our eBusiness Forum in Chicago, its time to offer a behind the scenes look at who won our 2012 B2B Groundswell Awards and why.  Mark you calendar and register today for our upcoming Webinar on November 8th in which the judges will dish on the companies and social strategies that knocked their socks off.  Who knows, you might get an inside track on winning next year, or better yet, knocking out a winning social strategy of your own.  Register here to save your space on this one time reveal on the best of the best in B2B social.