Hot Off The Presses: Forrester Wave™ For Interactive Attribution

So how was your winter?  I hibernated, holed up in a cave studying the interactive attribution category.  Like a freakish, human Punxsutawney Phil, I emerged – but unfortunately I saw my shadow and hit the snooze button. According to tradition, this means that we are subjected to more cold days ruled by the "last click" measurement standard.  And we're still stuck in those cold days:  even among marketers we surveyed who work with an attribution provider, 28% indicated that they still rely on "first click" or "last click" to assign value to their interactive marketing activities.

Now for the good news:  the thaw is coming and we’re optimistic that it will be permanent. I’m excited to announce that The Forrester Wave™: Interactive Attribution Providers, Q2 2012 is now available to help you select the right partner and learn more about attribution. In it, we discuss how momentum is accelerating for the interactive marketing community to dismiss "last click" and employ advanced attribution, the measurement of the partial value of each contact that contributed to a desired outcome.

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Gilt Grants Discounts Based On "Influence" -- Does This Have Staying Power?

Gilt Groupe recently ran a promotion with Klout in which it offered tiered discounts based on a person’s influence score (see the screenshot below). Members of Klout Perks received a discount for Gilt purchases based on their Klout score; the higher the member’s influence score, the higher the discount.

Gilt’s primary objective with the promotion was to build brand awareness through word of mouth and acquire new customers.  It will be interesting to see how the program performs for Gilt in terms of first-time purchases, long-term customer behaviors, and ROI.

This promotion got me thinking about the potential uses of influence scores for marketing purposes.  I’ve blogged about these scoring methodologies before and believe that we’re still feeling our way through their construction, relevancy, and value.  But I do see at least two general use cases forming.  In addition to incorporating them into analyses for customer insights, marketers can use influence scores — either home-grown or externally derived — to:

  • Identify influentials who can help create awareness. Marketers can seek to create word of mouth by reaching out to people deemed to be “influential” (let’s debate that another day) through services like BzzAgent, Klout, PeerIndex, Swaylo, and others.  In the Gilt example, the most influential people are provided an outsized incentive in the form of higher discounts.
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Ham-Handed SOPA Loses Momentum, But This Issue Isn’t Dead

So it appears that the progress of SOPA and PIPA is grinding to a halt, largely due to the massive online backlash inflamed by the influential new generation of digitally focused companies like Google,, and Facebook.  For interactive marketers, this is a good thing.  But protecting content creators from online piracy is fundamentally important and the movement is funded by deep pockets.  If SOPA and PIPA are dead in their current incarnations, they’re certain to resurface in another form.  The new question for interactive marketers and the online community is whether that new form will be more realistic, fair, and effective in terms of enforcement and compliance.

As a refresher, the twin online anti-piracy bills in the U.S. legislature sought to give copyright holders and U.S. attorneys general the power to stop foreign-based websites from linking to or displaying copyrighted content like movies and music without permission.  But the bills are extremely far-reaching and complicated and could potentially up-end the operations of any website that allows users to post content or has links to other sites – which is basically every site out there.

Why are SOPA and PIPA bad news for marketers?  They would potentially:

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Goodbye Siloed Digital Messaging, Hello Customer-Focused Integrated Messaging

Digital messaging convergence is here – at least for consumers.  Consumers receive messages through multiple channels like email, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, and mobile app push notifications.  And thanks to the smartphones and tablets they carry during their waking hours, they increasingly access these channels through a single device.  To consumers, the lines between distinct messaging channels are blurring.

Too bad marketers have been so slow to catch up.  Most marketers still manage messaging in channel-specific silos and don’t meet consumers’ expectations for integrated, synchronized messaging.  For example, many email marketing managers blast away at customers’ inboxes in an attempt to goose returns for their own channel instead of collaborating to execute a better mix of multi-channel messaging that will maximize overall customer value.

We just posted new research that explores what’s keeping marketers stuck in the siloed messaging rut and how they can better serve their customers (and themselves) by shifting to a new approach: Customer-Focused Integrated Messaging (CFIM).  Unlike siloed messaging, CFIM organizes data, resources, and processes to revolve around customers instead of channels.  In the report, we discuss why this desired state is more realistic and achievable now than ever before.  We also detail how marketers can make their digital messaging more integrated across channels and responsive to customers’ needs and behaviors.  These recommendations concentrate on changes marketers must make in three areas:

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Personal Identity Management Will Make Interactive Marketing Even More Complex

The collection and use of consumer data in digital channels continues to evolve at a fast pace.  I want to highlight two recent reports that address key areas of this topic that matter for interactive marketers.  Earlier this week, I published a report that details data collection best practices for interactive marketers.  The second one, Personal Identity Management, is a must-read courtesy of Fatemeh Khatibloo, who serves customer intelligence professionals here at Forrester.

In her report, Fatemeh introduces Personal Identity Management (PIDM), which has two primary components: 1) personal data lockers for consumers to hold their information, and 2) authorization management that ties data silos together, lets users update and manage their personal data, and enables consumers to approve requests for their data and share their data with marketers.

PIDM is in its early stages, but it could add another layer of complexity to consumer data collection and use if the digital ecosystem embraces it.  As an interactive marketer, PIDM would alter how you:

  • Acquire personal information for marketing and analysis.  Fatemeh’s report describes five areas marketers will need to focus on to unlock consumer data: privacy, security, transparency, portability, and economy.  Communicating your value proposition to consumers will become much trickier.
  • Develop interactive marketing environments.  Your team – including your internal and external partners – will need to adapt its processes, policies, and capabilities to account for consumers’ new data gatekeeper role.
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Avoid Relying Solely On “Canned” Scores For Influencer Targeting -- But Don’t Write Them Off Either

Influencer marketing is on my mind these days. In addition to working on a report about how interactive marketers should collaborate with different resources to execute influencer marketing, I’m also speaking about the topic at Forrester’s Consumer Forum in Chicago later this month.

Talking with marketers, agencies, and service providers, everyone (yes, it’s been everyone) has voiced opinions about “canned,” algorithm-based influence scores available through providers like Klout and PeerIndex. Detractors say that black-box influence scores focus too much on reach and not enough on context or topics, and that influencer identification is too complex to boil down using an opaque calculation. For example, Charlie Sheen may look like a valuable influencer based on his high Klout score, but a marketer of diapers would probably prefer to tap a mommy blogger with a lower top-line score to advocate its brand.

The supporters’ rebuttal: why would you use these scores in a vacuum in the first place?  The score providers themselves dissuade marketers from looking only at an individual’s top-line number with no filters for topic or brand relevancy – and those filters are available. Count me in this camp.

So how should interactive marketers regard off-the-shelf influence scores?  Keep in mind that:

  • These scoring systems are evolving. Companies like Klout and PeerIndex are in their early stages and certainly do have their limitations. But their capabilities to mine scores for topic, category, and brand influence continue to improve.
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How Do You Collect Marketing Data? Tell Us In A Survey Or Join Our #IMChat On Tuesday August 2nd

This is my first official blog post as a Forrester analyst, and I’m extremely excited to be a part of the community. So who am I? Before joining Forrester, I was an interactive marketer, a “traditional” marketer, and also a strategy and analytics consultant on the service provider side. Most recently, I served as director of relationship marketing at the National Basketball Association, where I focused on acquiring, engaging, and monetizing fan relationships through digital channels.

My background centers mostly on interactive marketing and CRM/database marketing, and my research will concentrate on that intersection. Currently, I’m readying reports on innovations in email marketing and developing interactive marketing dashboards. Looking ahead, my research will cover topics such as identifying and targeting influencers, the future of online messaging, converting social media followers into customers, and calculating the value of digital marketing assets.

To help jumpstart new research about data collection best practices for interactive marketers, I’m soliciting feedback through two opportunities:

  1. Take this quick 8-question survey about your data collection practices. We’ll share the results with you.
  2. Join us for Tuesday’s tweet jam to talk about the challenges faced when collecting data for interactive marketing programs.
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