Make Mobile A Loyalty Priority

I belong to more loyalty programs than the average consumer. As a result, on any given day, my wallet is overflowing with loyalty cards and loyalty program related paraphernalia. At the register, I’m often rummaging through my purse to locate reward certificates, half-filled punch cards, coupons, and the like.More often than I would like to admit, rewards go unredeemed simply because I didn’t have access to them when I needed or wanted to make a purchase.

I am also — like 42% of US online adults — a perpetually connected consumer. Whether I’m “just looking,” comparing specific products and prices, searching for coupons in my email, or making a purchase, I rely on my smartphone as a trusty sidekick. In that vein, my mobile phone has recently helped me reduce some of the physical bulk that comes with loyalty program membership. I have an app that digitally manages all of my membership cards in one place, a loyalty program folder to corral branded apps that offer loyalty program functionality, and more than one retailer lets me scan rewards barcodes at the POS.

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Is your company preparing for discovery marketing?

Much of my research agenda focuses on the notion that consumers now discover brands across myriad channels – not just search engines. That’s right – acquisition is happening in places other than on traditional search engines. Forrester calls the strategies for positioning a brand or products within a user’s discovery path, “discovery marketing.”

Some companies employ cross-channel acquisition strategies, but we’ve not seen many examples of firms that are adjusting their search marketing strategies to accommodate this notion of discovery marketing.   

What about you? Does the notion of discovery marketing make sense to you? How well prepared for it is your firm? What does the advent of discovery marketing mean for your company? How will discovery marketing change your current approach to search marketing? I’d love for you to share your thoughts about discovery marketing here or through ongoing direct dialog. Drop me a line if you want to talk!

Stay tuned for more discovery marketing research!

Discovery Marketing -- Helping Brands "Get Found"

The boom of the cheap and trendy bus service that links our cities together is old news to most of us East Coasters. You can’t bring up the BoltBus in a New York City office without inadvertently starting a lively Bolt/Mega debate. Everyone has opinions and these opinions – qualitative bits of data – are often what we’re relegated to evaluate before we choose. Based on the opinions of friends whose tastes are most in line with mine, I chose to take the BoltBus, on which I now sit, to Washington DC.

But what if this little heuristic of relying on the opinions of my likeminded chums leads me astray? Well, I could eliminate the risk of a bad decision by researching extensively. The research would involve screening potential advisers on myriad criteria for my travel preferences and general expectations. Thorough? Sure! Data-informed? Absolutely. Efficient? Not in the least.

In the January-February edition of the Harvard Business Review, Richard H. Thaler and Will Tucker explore this idea of data-driven decision making from the consumer side. The authors predict that the movement towards “Smart Disclosure” (i.e. “the timely release of complex information and data in standardized, machine-readable formats in ways that enable consumers to make informed decisions”) will have profound effects on policy, economy, and businesses. Incidentally, this movement will enable consumers and business alike to make better-informed decisions that are not only thorough and data-informed, but also are efficient. Based on their hypothesis, the authors anticipate the rise of the choice engine, a platform that will store consumer’s personal data and spew recommendations that are based specifically on the data the consumer provides.

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Don't Push It; Connect Content And Conversation To Pull Consumers Into Your Brand

The Huffington Post publisher Janet Balis recently shared 10 tips for marketers on how brands can become content kings. Balis commented that “one of the most fundamental dynamics of publishing is to connect content and conversation . . . it’s time to move beyond consumption and engagement and translate [content] into social actions.”  At the heart of marketers' interest in branded content is the realization that old-school push communications have lost impact with consumers. And we’re not just talking TV and print here. Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that digital ads such as banner ads, text, and mobile apps are the least trusted form of advertising communications; only 10% of US online adults trust banner ads on websites. With multiple connected devices at their fingertips, today’s perpetually-connected consumers can opt in or out of content on a whim. Branded content offers an opportunity to truly engage with consumers in a way that marketers have never done before. But there’s no shortage of content out there, so where do you start? Apply Forrester’s four C's framework to build your brand with branded content:

  • Capture the brand’s North Star in branded content. Authenticity is critical for branded content. And authentic content begins with knowing who you are. So ask yourself, what’s your brand North Star? 
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Q&A with Greg Williams, Executive Editor WIRED

There's a growing group of people who are always online and use their devices to support nearly every activity, including making decisions about your products and services. We call them your perpetually connected customers. They will shake your marketing to the core, because they value service and utility  not ads buzzing in their pockets. To thrive, you need new tactics and a culture of innovation. In the run-up to our Forrester Forum for Marketing Leaders EMEA, I've been speaking about marketing innovation with one of our keynotes, Greg Williams, Executive Editor at WIRED. As an editor, speaker, and writer, Greg scouts the best glimpses of the future that exist in the here-and-now. Here are some of his thoughts. 

Q: What's your favourite example of an application that merges the digital and physical?

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Thoughts from ARF: Rethink 2013 — It’s Time To Stop Talking And Start Doing

 

If you read my blog regularly, it should come as no surprise that I am an ardent fan of using mobile devices — whether mobile phones or tablets — for market research purposes. I have discussed how consumers are already forcing our hand into the world of mobile and that market insights professionals are not conducting mobile market research but instead are conducting market research in a mobile world.

Given this, I was both delighted and dismayed when attending this year’s ARF Re:think 2013 conference. Why was I delighted? There was a marked increase in the number of talks that focused on the role mobile plays — whether as a research technique or how it plays a significant role in consumers’ lives. Of just the talks I attended, which were a lot, almost 60% of them discussed the role of mobile. And a lot of these “mobile” talks were in the main track session. Talking with colleagues who attended last year, it’s clear that mobile has definitely moved front of mind compared with ARF Re:think 2012.

But I was dismayed that it was still just talk, talk, talk. At the conference, I was surrounded by tablets and smartphones, and people were using them all the time. And while we’re living this mobile life, we’re listening to speeches telling us how we need to start thinking about the role of mobile. Dare I say that we need to do a bit more than just thinking at this point in the game? We clearly have to get our act together soon.

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Live From BtoB Magazine Digital Edge Live . . .

. . . Ok, maybe not so "live" because it is now late in the evening on the day of the conference, but I'd like to share a few insights I gathered about the state of business-to-business (B2B) digital marketing today.

BtoB magazine's one-day event features frank conversational discussion from top B2B brands (mostly tech ones like Cisco Systems, Intel, SAP, VMware, Tellabs, and IBM) in moderated panel format. Digital lead generation/pipeline augmentation, social selling, agency trends, building B2B community, developing engaging content, and mobile marketing filled out the agenda.

This was my second year at the event, and the highlight again was the social media awards. Featuring 10 categories ranging from integrated campaign, to Twitter, mobile, and Pinterest, BtoB singles out top performers in social marketing. It also unveils tech and nontech people's-choice awards as voted on by subscribers.

You can find the full list here, and I hope BtoB will publish the scripted descriptions in a future edition because all honorees were interesting and unique and offer B2B marketers a look into how to use social to advance business. Heartfelt congratulations to all award winners — well deserved!

Looking over the list, here are a few observations you can take away about the state of social marketing in B2B:

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Event Marketing Giveaways That Work

Between events and trade shows, nearly a quarter of the average B2B marketer’s budget is spent on events, dwarfing all other marketing mix categories, including website and advertising spending. Your customers agree that in-person events are highly influential. For example, in our Q3 2012 survey of business hardware buyers, 68% of respondents state that in-person events are important for researching and evaluating what to purchase.

As an analyst, I both attend and participate in a number of different trade shows, customer events, and industry or role events each year — including our own Forrester Forum For Marketing Leaders April 18-19 this year in Los Angeles. 

No matter what the event, vendors have event giveaways — or swag — for their customers and prospects. Marketing swag — when done right — can help you get the most value out of the events you are already running or attending. How? People will remember you favorably, and that's a good start to a follow-on sales conversation or marketing touch. Unfortunately, many giveaways fail to reach that objective, and waste both time and money.

I’ve created an interactive tool for clients, with three major categories of factors used to evaluate your event giveaways or swag. Consider:

  1. If the swag connects back to your brand message enough to be worth offering it all: The $2 bill test; Company branding; Value alignment.
  2. How valuable and useful the swag is for your intended audience: Usability; Interactivity; Durability; Portability.
  3. How practical the item is logistically: Unit cost; Reusability; Portability.
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Q&A with Richard Char, Global Head of Information Services, Global Enterprise Payments, Citi

Our Forum for Marketing Leadership Professionals in Los Angeles is just a few weeks away, and in preparation I’ve been talking with our industry keynoters about their sessions. Last week I had a chance to catch up with Richard Char, Global Head of Information Services, Global Enterprise Payments at Citi, in advance of his keynote at the event. We talked about how Citi is using customer data to market to customers at the right time, with the right messaging for connecting in the moment. Here are some of Richard’s thoughts.

Q: How is Citi using data to build a view of customers in a specific context?

A: In our soon-to-be-released digital wallet application, offers will be selected for each customer (who has opted in) depending on the customer’s indicated preferences and based on predicted relevancy of the offer. We use past transaction data and the customer’s prior interaction with offers in the digital wallet, as well as the customer’s current location and context (time of day, day of week, current weather, etc.), to select the next offer which will have the greatest predicted relevancy for the customer.

Q: Why should brands and merchants work with an intermediary like Citi for targeted promotions?

A: With respect to our soon-to-be-released digital wallet application, there are three reasons local merchants are working with Citi:  

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Take On Mobile Marketing Tactics With Support

Think about the past 24 hours: What have you done with your mobile phone? Did you send a text message? Check your email? Read any articles? Challenge someone in Words With Friends? If you said ‘yes’ to any of these, chances are that you may be one of the rapidly growing segment of perpetually connected customers that Forrester has been talking about. Welcome to the club!

Being one of these super-connected, mobile-savvy people is exciting. You can sit on your couch browsing a store’s catalog on your tablet while simultaneously messaging with friends on your smartphone. You can get a notification from your favorite store’s app about a flash sale happening that moment. You can search for the best dinner spot nearby and check reviews while walking down the street. You can find out more information about the TVs you are deciding between while in-store through the mobile Web or scanning a barcode. The options are endless!

Now put on your marketer hat. It’s an exciting time from this perspective too because the opportunities available to reach this consumer anytime, anywhere also seem endless! So yes, it’s exciting, but — let’s be honest – there is a lot of pressure to successfully meet these consumers’ demands, and it’s a little daunting to wade through the endless options to discover what tactics are right for your brand and how to get the programs launched.

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