Is Your Marketing Effort Truly Driven By Your Customers?

The inimitable Ice Cube once sang that you should "check yourself before you wreck yourself." To be honest, I don't know what else was in that song, but that one line is a good one for today's CMOs to heed if you're looking for success in the age of the customer — an era where your only source of competitive advantage comes from relationships with customers. Over the past few months, I've been writing and talking at length about the importance of moving to a customer-obsessed marketing organization: a well-oiled machine that is organized for and around customers' needs. We use the customer life cycle to illustrate how marketers should approach marketing to differentiate the brand or company in a highly complex landscape of products, media, data, and conversation. There's no one-size-fits-all approach for it either. But there are five key areas on which CMOs should focus to facilitate the transition to a customer life-cycle-driven marketing effort:

  1. Strategy.
  2. Organization.
  3. Data and analytics.
  4. Measurement.
  5. Customer relationship management tools.
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Build VoC Support From The Top Down . . . And From The Bottom Up

There’s no question that executive support can make or break a voice of the customer (VoC) program. With an executive (or several) onboard, VoC teams can get the funding and tools that they need to succeed. And VoC leaders from Forrester’s 2012 Voice Of The Customer Awards almost unanimously gave others the advice to build executive support.

If you’re struggling to get your program off the ground, heed their wise advice. Appeal to executives with evidence (metrics, business results) and with compelling stories about what might be going wrong for customers and how they’ve been delighted by the experience. Ask for execs to support you in collecting feedback from customers, analyzing that feedback, taking on projects to improve the experience, and monitoring to make sure that those projects are working.

But executives aren’t the only key to a successful program. Top-down support is important, but it has to be balanced with bottom-up support, too. What happens when execs mandate that everyone cares about customer feedback? People don’t really care. It feels like a fad. Employees have to feel some ownership and control — or they just won’t buy in.

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The Data Digest: Usage Of RSS Feeds

This week, Google announced that it will shut down Google Reader on July 1, 2013. In its announcement, Google states that it’s doing this because the usage of Google Reader has declined and it wants to concentrate on fewer products. There was a lot of buzz online about this decision, and some fanatical Google Reader fans put together a petition to keep the RSS reader alive. They garnered more than 50,000 signatures in just a few hours.

This whole debate sparked my interest, and I analyzed Forrester’s Technographics® data to get a better understanding of the usage of RSS feeds over time. I found that Google is right about the decline. Our data shows that it was always only a dedicated group who used RSS feeds at least weekly — about 7% of US online adults in 2008; this had declined to just over 4% last year, with about one in 10 US online adults using RSS feeds about monthly.

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How Marketers Can Play With Games

Guest Post by Researcher James McDavid:

In our new report, Extend Your Marketing Into Games, we take a closer look at how marketers can take advantage of opportunities within games. From dedicated consoles to mobile devices and in browsers, games are a multi-platform stage for brands to get in front of consumers. 

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How Marketers Can Play With Games

In our new report, 'Extend Your Marketing Into Games,' we take a closer look at how marketers can take advantage of opportunities within games. From dedicated consoles to mobile devices and in browsers, games are a multi-platform stage for brands to get in front of consumers. 

But the problem is most marketers are blind to the opportunity games afford, due to outdated beliefs about this channel. The biggest being that 'game players are a niche demographic not worth targeting.'

In-Game Advertising Example

In reality, these consumers aren't the stereotypical teenage (or eternally-teenage…) boys who live in their parents basements. They're all of your customers. Our data shows that gaming is a pervasive behavior - almost 40% of online Europeans aged 45 to 54 are playing PC games at least weekly. And across mobile devices, over 50% of US online adults aged 18 to 44 engage in game playing.

Today, using games as a channel for branding and awareness is an obvious opportunity. Marketers can begin to play by using existing resources and techniques familiar to them from standard online display efforts. From placing their ads alongside browser based games to integrated in-game advertising on consoles - and there's a rich vendor landscape out there to help ease the transition into in-game advertising.

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US eCommerce 2013-2017: Still On Fire (And A Jobs Engine To Boot!)

We have just finalized our projections for US eCommerce for 2013 and not surprisingly, the numbers are strong — excluding auctions, we expect that figure to be $262B, 13% higher than the total in 2012. A few highlights of note:

  • Three categories capture over one-third of that total. Yes, only three! Apparel and accessories alone are a $40B-plus sector (which probably explains the heavy investment of players like Amazon in the space), followed by consumer electronics and computer hardware. 
  • Overall web penetration is 8%. That may not seem very remarkable, but that figure is deceptive because it’s weighed down by the grocery/food and beverage category, which is one of the largest overall but least penetrated online. In fact, if we exclude grocery from the mix, overall eCommerce penetration in the US jumps to 11% of overall retail. 
  • eCommerce is a jobs creator in the retail sector. For the first time, we have estimated the total employment in the US that results from the online retail sector. Our estimate is that over 400,000 individuals are employed in some web retailing function, of which more than half are salaried professionals (i.e., all non-fulfillment and call center employees). Furthermore, many of these salaried positions have promising long-term career growth trajectories. Given that there are probably about 750,000 such salaried jobs overall in retail (my estimate, approximately 10% of the 7.3M people employed in retail overall), the fact that the eCommerce sector has nearly 200,000 of them is a remarkable testament to the employment impact of this sector.
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Are You Listening To Your Customers?

Recent shakeups on Forrester’s Customer Intelligence team provided an opportunity to take a good look at our listening platform and social intelligence coverage. Long tagged as the responsibility of the social media team, we believe that “customer listening” should encompass numerous sources of feedback – from the call center, to voice of customer programs, to enterprise feedback management, to ethnographic and traditional market research – to really listen to the customer. CI researcher Allison Smith and I are working on a new series of reports around this concept – for now we're calling it Enterprise Customer Listening.

What is Enterprise Customer Listening, and why do we need it?
 
The Age Of The Customer makes it more important than ever to keep close tabs on what your customers and prospects are saying about your brand. As companies progress toward social intelligence maturity – full integration of social data into existing business strategies and technologies – many are checking the "listening" box, but we think that they aren't thinking broadly enough. The opportunity to listen to customers isn't limited to a single channel, and the unsolicited, unstructured feedback in each channel becomes more valuable when coupled with insights from others. Capturing, managing, and understanding the breadth of what customer's say can ignite the customer’s influence across the enterprise – giving you competitive advantage.
 
So, what do you think?
 
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European Online Retail Forecast 2012 to 2017: Online growth will begin to polarize across Europe

European online retail sales will reach €191 billion by 2017, up from €112 billion in 2012 – reflecting a 11% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years.

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Understanding The Changing Needs Of Online Consumers In China, India And Japan

Historically, consumers in Asia Pacific have done far more activities on their mobile phones than in other regions. With the increasing availability of affordable smartphones in the region, mobile phones are now the No. 1 device for consuming media for many consumers in Asia Pacific. Similarly, activities like playing games (such as word games and puzzle games), listening to music (both streaming and non-streaming), and using social media are increasingly done via mobile phones, and activity levels are now approaching those of PCs.

In recent months, Forrester’s Data Insights team has been analyzing our Technographics® data for the Asia Pacific version of our annual global series, “Understanding The Changing Needs Of Online Consumers.” For the past seven years, Forrester has been tracking consumers’ online and offline behavior in Asia Pacific. In 2012, we surveyed 16,616 Asia Pacific consumers across two surveys to find out about their use of the Internet for media, entertainment, shopping, communication, and social computing.

Some other highlights of our analyses include:

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Keynote Sneak Previews - "Winning The Dynamic Digital Consumer In China" - March 20, 2013

We are hard at work finalizing the content for the upcoming keynotes at Forrester's "Winning The Dynamic Digital Consumer In China" summit next week in Shanghai (#ForrForum). I'm so excited for everyone to hear our Forrester analyst and external industry keynote presenters on March 20th discuss what you need to drive successful multi-channel marketing and commerce strategies in China. To whet your appetite, I wanted to provide you with snapshots of the content for each keynote, and what you can expect to learn from each.

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