The AppGratis Controversy And The Mobile App Discovery & Promotion

AppGratis is a French app promotion and discovery platform startup that was recently ejected from the App Store on the grounds that it violated Apple’s developer T&Cs. Back in September 2012, Apple tweaked its developer guidelines, adding a clause that states: “Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected.”

Simon Dawlat, the CEO of AppGratis, shares his vision in great detail here and explains why he thinks the ban is totally unfair. Even France’s digital industry minister, Fleur Pellerin, has spoken up in support of AppGratis, describing Apple’s actions as ”extremely brutal, unilateral, and without explanation,” and calling on Cupertino to “behave ethically.“ Natasha Lomas at TechCrunch fairly and exhaustively summarizes the whole story here.

Without going into the legal details here, one may argue that there is a blurring of the line between app discovery and app promotion. I personally viewed AppGratis as a traffic booster based on curated app discovery experiences. I think it definitely helped gain some initial visibility in app stores, but I think app developers and publishers still needed to measure the customer lifetime value and make sure their audiences would stay engaged.

Anyway, the AppGratis controversy highlights the growing dependency from publishers and developers to Apple and Google in the app economy.

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It's A Marathon, Not A Sprint: Making The Switch To Customer-Driven Marketing

Update: The following post was written prior to today's shocking events at the Boston Marathon. All of Forrester sends out thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes to the runners, spectators, and their families affected by this senseless violence. — Cory

Today is just tax day to most of the US, but here in Boston, it's much more likely to be referred to as marathon Monday. Indeed, thousands of runners and wheelchair athletes are currently moving toward the finish line in the 117th running of one of the world's most famous and popular races: the Boston Marathon. For some, the goal is just to finish, while others are out to set personal records. And all have been training with a regimented, well-planned routine for months in anticipation of the big day. Marketers should take a page out of the marathoner's playbook when it comes to making the switch to the customer life cycle, a customer-driven marketing approach that will help your organization succeed in the age of the customer. CMOs in particular have the responsibility of transitioning marketing to a customer-first philosophy, and my latest report, "Evaluate The Completeness Of Your Marketing Effort," will help you get there (subscription required).

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Why Google - Not Facebook - Will Build The Database Of Affinity

Recently we described an idea called the database of affinity: A catalogue of people’s tastes and preferences collected by observing their social behaviors on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Why are we so excited about this idea? Because if Facebook or Twitter or some other company can effectively harness the data from all the likes and shares and votes and reviews they record, they could bring untold rigor, discipline, and success to brand advertising.

But exploiting the database of affinity won’t be easy. Any company hoping to turn affinity data into something marketers can use will need three things:

  1. Lots of affinity data from lots of sources. The raw data required to build a functional database of affinity doesn’t live in just one place. Facebook controls the most "like" data, recording more than 80 billion per month at last check. But Twitter records more "talking" than anyone else (1.5 billion tweets per month); Amazon collects the most reviews (well over 6 million per month); and Google’s YouTube and Google Display Network have data on how a billion people prefer to spend their time.
  2. The ability to bring meaning to that data. It’s easy to draw simple conclusions from affinity data: If you ‘like’ snowboarding you might like to see an ad for energy drinks. But the real value in affinity data won’t be unlocked until we can find hidden combinations of affinity that work for marketing. That’ll require technologies and teams that can do some serious data analysis — as well as a real-time feedback loop to determine whether people really are interested in the ads targeted to them based on such complex assumptions.
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Trust Me, Take Small Steps To Build Brand Trust

I’m currently quite taken with the new Fox TV series The Americans, which features a chameleon-like Matthew Rhys and a kick-ass Keri Russell as deep-undercover KGB spies. They live an apparently normal family life in 1980s suburban cold war America, while unbeknownst to their two American-born children, they conduct brutal covert operations for mother Russia. A recent episode called “Trust Me” exposed the perilous shifting sands of trust in their relationships. It is a world where no one is quite what they seem to be, and every character is constantly reevaluating whom they can trust. It is exhausting. Because without trust, every decision or action is a risk.

This holds true not just for human relationships but also for brand relationships. In both, trust is the cornerstone. Brand trust makes purchasing decisions easier, quicker, and less risky. I choose Amazon because I trust that it will deliver the product I want when I want it. I trust that my Neutrogena sunblock will protect my skin. I trust that my Starbucks coffee will taste good. I recently attended an event hosted by the Marketing Science Institute (MSI) on the topic of “Building Trust In A Digital Age.” MSI seeks to bridge the gap between marketing academic and business worlds, by bringing together marketing thought leaders from both realms to research and discuss big meaty, marketing topics. For the Boston Spring session, attendees debated the nature of brand trust and how it is driven and measured. A couple of highlights:

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Q&A WITH YANNICK GRECOURT, HEAD OF STRATEGY AND MARKETING, DEUTSCHE BANK BELGIUM

Engaging with perpetually connected customers is something you can't fake, and when you engage, you create expectations that need to be met. This is one of the key messages Yannick Grecourt, Head of Strategy and Marketing at Deutsche Bank Belgium, shared with me when I talked to him recently in preparation for his speech at our Forrester Forum for Marketing Leaders EMEA

Q: How does Deutsche Bank Belgium prioritize the most important channels for reaching customers?

A: Confronted with remarks on why other banks were developing new initiatives and we were not, we were forced to share our direction with all the internal divisions explaining the prioritization process. We decided to divide all channels into two categories: the managed and integrated channels, and the ‘non-integrated’ channels, and we used the customer journey to define all possible touch points. For the integrated category, the most important elements are alignment and relevancy, whereas for the non-integrated the judgment call is made based on the impact to the integrated channels.

Q: How do digital channels improve the advisor/client relationship?

A: A key impact of the financial crisis was the increasing involvement of clients in the management of their portfolio. As a consequence, clients were in search of more frequent contact but in a more and more digitalized environment. The development of a new advisory approach included a new online platform that has allowed us to align the tools we provide to our clients with the tools we use internally. As a matter of fact, our clients are sharing the same tools and information as our advisors do. Over time, clients are also getting used to how important/urgent a message is depending on the channel.

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Avoid The "All Listen And No Action" VoC Program Trap

Voice of the customer (VoC) data is alluring. Once you start to collect customer feedback, there's always something more you could be gathering. You think: What else can I learn? What else are customers saying and thinking? Where else are they saying it? You want to know more.

But collecting the data — listening — isn't enough.

At Forrester, we describe the continuous cycle of activities that make up VoC programs as: listen, interpret, react, and monitor. "Listen" is all the customer feedback you're collecting via listening posts like surveys, emails, calls, and comment cards. "Interpret" is the analysis you do on that feedback (and other related data) to understand what it all means. "React" is what you do to fix the experience based on the analysis you've done, and "monitor" is how you make sure that whatever you did to react is actually working.

It's critical to go through the full cycle with whatever data you're already collecting. Because here's the hard truth: You get no ROI from listening or interpreting. None. Zero. Zip. You only get business results from actually improving the experience.

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Experience Design Will Rule in the Post-PC Era

The last few days have been quite rough on PC-era titans Microsoft and HP. While my colleague Ted Schadler is correct in saying we're in a multi-device, "right tool for the job" era, the unfortunate truth for PC makers is that, for many consumers, the right tool for the job just so happens to be the mobile devices they carry with them, not the PC sitting in their bedroom or home office or wherever people keep them these days. In fact, 77% of mobile searches take place in the home or at work where a PC is readily available. Whether you call it lazy or convenient, the simple fact is smartphones and tablets are quickly becoming the go-to computing devices for consumers.

This shift in ownership and use behavior marks the dawn of a new age in customer experience. As I discuss in my new report, Customer Experience in the Post-PC Era, as customers shift their attention to mobile devices, their expectations are fundamentally changing. In the post-PC era, customers expect companies to provide experiences aligned with their needs and abilities, in the right context, and at their moment of need. To deliver on this, customer experiences need to become:

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The Data Digest: The Unique Profile Of Pinterest Users

 

“How can you reinvent your brand to appeal to younger consumers?” This is the million-dollar question, and the contestant sitting in the hot seat is you. But don’t panic; why not use a lifeline? Ask the audience! That was the approach car manufacturer Buick recently took when designing the 2013 Encore luxury model.

Striving to portray a more fun, contemporary side of the established auto brand and win loyalty among younger consumers, Buick promoted its "Pinterest to Dashboard" contest by calling on participants to create Pinterest boards that spoke to personal styles and passions. The Buick design team selected a winning collection to become the inspiration for the interior and exterior designs of the automobile. While this new look is not yet available on the market, Buick managed to connect with younger consumers in an exciting and relevant way. Through Pinterest, the company engaged 10 extremely influential bloggers (the winner of the competition has nearly 4 million Pinterest followers), dozens of lifestyle editors from media and publication companies, and millions of Pinterest users whose online responses indicated the winning pinboard.

Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data suggests that Buick certainly chose the right platform to reach its desired market. Launched only three years ago, Pinterest is currently the third-largest social media platform in the US behind Facebook and Twitter. Of those 5.5 million US online adults who use Pinterest to research products for purchase, 65% are younger than 35 and 33% have an average household income of more than $100,000.

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Some global themes from recent events

Over the past month, I’ve had the great fortune of taking part in three fantastic events: Forrester’s own Marketing & Strategy Summit in Shanghai, Demandware’s XChange Conference in Las Vegas, and Borderfree’s (formerly FiftyOne) Global eCommerce Forum here in New York. Several themes around global eCommerce came up in conversations at all three events:

Consumer online spending is driven by more than price in emerging eCommerce markets. In markets like China, it’s well established that consumers use the online channel to bargain-hunt. Yet there’s much discussion of the fact that consumers are moving beyond chasing the lowest prices online – instead, they are looking to trusted online retailers that provide a superior customer experience and guarantee authenticity.

International expansion involves a mix and match of different approaches. It’s now common to see companies taking a variety of approaches to global markets. Brands may operate a series of country-specific websites with local fulfillment, offer a branded store on a marketplace such as Tmall in China, and serve a large number of other markets through an international shipping model.  The one-size-fits-all approach has given way to a more complex set of different global options.

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SunTrust Reboots Its Digital Platform With Responsive Design

With mobile and tablet usage now mainstream, a big hurdle for eBusiness professionals is how to scale digital experiences across consumer touchpoints without dragging development momentum to a near halt in the process. But how?

In previous research, we’ve highlighted the advantages of responsive web design and how it can simplify the development of web experiences across multiple consumer touchpoints. In our latest report, we explain how one company, SunTrust Banks, began an initiative to simultaneously improve its internal web project delivery processes while expanding its digital presence across new consumer touchpoints.

SunTrust, like many enterprise organizations, was expereincing a painstakingly slow, and costly, rollout of its digital platform. Demands from the business for digital experiences were on the rise, resulting in a 200% year-over-year growth in project requests. At the same time, SunTrust’s total traffic coming from mobile reached almost 10% of total digital traffic and tablet traffic was on the rise. With more and more devices emerging at a breakneck pace, the digital team at SunTrust knew they had to rethink their approach to web development. The team landed on responsive web design as a solution to their problems. Reponsive design enabled the digital team at SunTrust to focus resources on building and maintaining a single web platform instead of maintaining and optimizing multiple fragmented user experiences. They call it “The Power Of One.”

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