Just Published: Our Forrester Wave™ Evaluation Of Loyalty Program Service Providers

We recently wrapped up our second evaluation of loyalty program service providers. From a potential pool of over 30 loyalty providers, we selected eight leading vendors that offer soup-to-nuts loyalty strategy, technology, and program management services. What has changed since our last evaluation? Notably, we found an increased focus on building programs that go beyond transactional rewards and loyalty technology. Wraparound program management services are still a key component of their solutions, but every vendor included in this Forrester Wave evaluation offers a productized platform that can be configured to meet client requirements.

In our final evaluation of eight vendors in“The Forrester Wave™: Loyalty Program Service Providers, Q4 2013,” we found a relatively competitive field of providers. Each firm has strengths and weaknesses in its current offering, but the leaders differentiate themselves through their forward-thinking company strategies. From a road map and development perspective, further increasing customer engagement capabilities, continually improving technology, and investing in more sophisticated loyalty analytics are major focus areas.

I want to extend my sincere thanks to each vendor in the report — Aimia, Brierley+Partners, Connexions Loyalty, Epsilon, Kobie Marketing, Maritz Loyalty Marketing, Olson 1to1, and Tibco Loyalty Lab — for committing to and participating in the often grueling Forrester Wave evaluation process. In addition, thank you to my CI colleagues Samantha Ngo, Carl Doty, and Shar VanBoskirk for supporting and editing this research.

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Is The Data Broker Industry Really Ready For A Sea Change?

Yesterday, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill published an essay on AdAge.com that calls on data brokers to join -- or, rather, establish -- an initiative called "Reclaim Your Name." The goal of the program would be to provide a single portal where consumers could see what data the industry has collected about them, provide options to opt in and out, and to correct data that might be inaccurate.

While the commissioner's article is a bit heavy on the "big data" rhetoric, her point is well taken: We have entered an era where the volume of data that individuals make available about themselves -- often inadvertently -- is increasing daily. Unfortunately, guidelines for how marketers and the larger data industry collect and use personal data are in short supply. This conflict is one of the major challenges that our industry faces in the coming decade: How can brands excel in the age of the customer if they're constantly under scrutiny about their privacy and data practices?

Acxiom, one of the world's largest data brokers, recently launched its own version of the kind of portal Commissioner Brill calls for. AboutTheData.com lets individuals see a subset of the data Acxiom knows about them, provides correction and opt-out opportunities, and aims to provide consumers with education about the data industry as a whole.

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Announcing The 2013 Customer Analytics And Measurement Survey

Last year, my colleague Srividya Sridharan published The State Of Customer Analytics 2012 (subscription required). Using the results of her annual customer analytics adoption survey, she uncovered key trends of how customer analytics practitioners use and adopt various advanced analytics across the customer life cycle and highlighted challenges and drivers associated with customer analytics.

This year, I have the pleasure of teaming up with Sri on her yearly survey, to further explore the adoption of advanced analytics, measurement, and attribution. Please read her blog post to learn more about the survey.  This survey will explore the adoption and usage of measurement techniques, including attribution, and the adoption of advanced analytics methodologies. With this expanded survey we want to understand how you use and apply measurement and analytics in your organization to optimize both cross-channel marketing campaigns and customer programs.

In particular, we’re fielding questions to understand the goals and challenges associated with measurement and analytics, the adoption and application of measurement and advanced analytics methods, the use of several marketing and customer metrics, the customer insights process and workflow, and the organizational aspects that support measurement and analytics. We encourage you to participate in this survey, as this information will help you benchmark your measurement and analytics adoption efforts.

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Announcing the 2013 Customer Analytics & Measurement Survey

Last year, we published The State of Customer Analytics 2012 (subscription required)  based on the results of our annual customer analytics adoption survey where we uncovered key trends of how customer analytics practitioners use and adopt various advanced analytics across the customer lifecycle and highlighted challenges and drivers associated with customer analytics.

This year, I am teaming up with my colleague and attribution guru Tina Moffett to further explore measurement, attribution and customer analytics practices ranging from the type of attribution techniques in vogue to the adoption of advanced analytics methodologies.  With this expanded survey we want to understand how you use and apply measurement and analytics in your organization to optimize both cross-channel marketing campaigns as well as customer programs.

In particular, we’re fielding questions to understand the goals and challenges associated with measurement and analytics, the adoption and application of measurement and advanced analytics methods, the use of several marketing and customer metrics, the customer insights process and workflow as well as the organizational aspects that support measurement and analytics. We encourage you to participate in this survey, as this information will help you benchmark your measurement and analytics adoption efforts.

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Your Company Won An Award! Congrats. So What? Now What?

My eighty-six-year-old mother called me last night to tell me that she’s been “boiling eggs wrong all my life.” It seems she’d watched a cooking show and received some “best practice” advice. My mom is an excellent cook, so this made me realize that no matter how seasoned a veteran you are, there’s no harm (and often some good) in a review of the basics. In that spirit, I am going to share some advice for a question that comes to me quite frequently:

“What are the best practices for leveraging an industry or business award?”

First, deal with the basics: the press release.

  • Issue a press release.  Be sure to include a quote from the awarding body about their judgment process and criteria. If the award is based upon a customer story, work really hard to include a quote from the customer in the press release. It’s OK to use the template that the award giver has probably given you, but make sure the press release is search-engine-optimized for your keywords.
  • Get aggressive on press outreach. Focus on reporters or social influencers (bloggers, analysts) who have been diffident or unresponsive in the past. If you can offer up an interview with the co-award-winning client, you have a very good chance of getting some coverage.
  • Post the news on all your social media sites.
  • If a customer was involved, try to convert to a “customer case study” press release. The barrier to this might be lower now that the customer’s use of your product/service is already public knowledge.
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Participate In Our TechRadar™ Research On Customer Analysis Methods

Customer insights professionals have many customer analytics methods (sub's reqd) to choose from today to perform behavioral customer analysis, and new techniques emerge as the complexity of customer data increases. Analysis of customer data involves the use of data-mining and statistical methods that span descriptive and predictive analytics. But how do you decide which customer analysis methods are right for you? How do you plan your customer analytics capability with the right mix of methods that address specific questions and uncover customer insights?

Using our Forrester TechRadar™ methodology we are kicking off research that will address many of the questions above as well as explore:

  • The current state of each customer analysis method, its maturity, market momentum, ecosystem interest and investment levels.
  • The potential impact of each method on your ability to understand and predict customer behavior

The customer analytics methods to be included in this report range from behavioral customer segmentation to propensity models, social network analysis, next-best offer analysis, lifetime value analysis, customer churn analysis to name a few.

If you are interested in participating in this research as an end-user/client, expert or customer analytics technology or services vendor reach out to me directly at ssridharan [at] forrester [dot] com.

Thanks in advance for your participation! All research participants will receive a copy of the published report.

Exploring New Email Pricing Models

The standard pricing model for email marketing — the CPM — may soon change. Industry consolidation, commoditization, and growing data volumes threaten the standard. Buyers may soon confront models that range from a platform license (all-you-can-email) to total utilization (data + messaging) to seat-based models. In November, I will publish research into the rationale for model changes, evaluate different candidate models, and explore the repercussions of the change.

I need your help. Price changes will have dramatic and difficult to predict effects on customer experience, marketing practices, the vendor landscape, and even the structure of the marketing organization. For example, an all-you-can-email model may, paradoxically, reduce email volumes in the long run, if it removes barriers to adoption of cross-channel programs.

This potential shift from channel-specific to cross-channel is one of the more interesting consequences of a model change. I’d like your reactions include:

  • What is the best pricing model given the challenges you face (performance, cross-channel, real-time, mobility, etc.)?
  • Who in your organization might be affected by the change?
  • How do you anticipate the purchase process (RFP, selection, negotiation, contract review) might change as a result of a model change?
  • If you faced no pricing limits on email, how would your strategy and operations change?
  • If vendors moved to a platform model — e.g., including other modules such as web recommendations, push notifications, or behavioral targeting with email — how would your strategy and operations change?
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A Taste of Attribution From Mountain View

Many have commented on the 14 product enhancements announced at last week’s Google Analytics Summit (GAS), but I attended to learn about their new Data Driven Attribution (DDA) tool. Why travel to Mountain View, CA “just” to focus on a new advanced attribution tool?

  • Digital pathways are rarely last click. Imagine a consumer who clicks on a banner ad sending them to your YouTube video.  They watch the first 45 seconds and then enter your website through natural search. Do you really want to give zero credit to the YouTube ad? Assuming this pathway is common, should you increase or decrease your banner ad budget? Now with Google’s DDA (or competing tools) you can get an accurate answer for each touch point. 
  • Pathways are rich with insights—in theory. Now imagine your team is struggling to optimize YouTube across a set of products. Also imagine you could measure how the influence of YouTube varied across journeys based on what was purchased, lifecycle stage and persona. Armed with those insights your team could develop a content creation schedule or define the role of YouTube in new product launches. Unfortunately Google’s DDA is limited in pathway comparisons, but I predict expansion of that functionality in the next 12 months.  I applaud Google for its simple interface, but marketers need more options than the limited demographics and attitudes available today.
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Q3 2013 Takeaways: Advanced Measurement Continues To Be A Key Initiative

The end of a quarter forces me to reflect on what I learned in regards to my coverage area: measurement and attribution. From customer insights (CI) pros and marketers, I saw an increased interest in advancing their measurement approaches. On the attribution front, there is an appetite to learn about specific methodologies, use cases, ongoing attribution management strategies, and attribution applications to marketing/media buys. On the vendor side, I saw more advancement in tools, approaches, and offline and mobile data integration. I predict attribution — and general consumer and marketing measurement — will continue to be a hot topic for marketers and CI professionals well into 2014. Specifically, I expect to see more attribution adoption and usage of attribution to measure customer purchase paths and to learn more about customer behaviors and motivations.

In the meantime, let me recap the Q3 2013 measurement takeaways:

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A New Voice On The Customer Insights Team

It is no surprise that a significant amount of work is being done at marketing service providers (MSPs), customer engagement agencies (CEAs), and direct and digital agencies to differentiate their organizations abilities. The vendor landscape is crowded and competitive, which creates a complex environment for marketers and customer intelligence professionals. How can they choose the best partners for their key business needs?

I am happy to have joined the Customer Insights team at Forrester Research, where I will continue the research and thinking on the CI services landscape (agencies, MSPs, CEAs, and data providers) previously covered by Fatemeh Khatibloo while she builds her research on personal identity management (PIDM).

Forrester defines CEAs as: “Agencies that focus on defining customer-oriented business strategies and mapping them to tactics and execution. CEAs help clients maximize customer profitability and optimize customer experiences by applying data and analytics to every interaction.” We believe that CEAs will not be the only type of business emerging from the MSP space. My research will focus on developing trends within the marketing services landscape, as well as studying emerging provider models. I will also support the CI team’s mission to support customer-obsessed business strategies. See our mantra here: CI’s Imperative In The Age Of The Customer: Drive Business Success.

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