2014 wasn’t a good year to be average. Since 2007, the average customer experience in the industries that Forrester tracks has gone up across the board, and the number of truly awful experiences has dropped like a rock. So if your CX is average, it’s just not good enough to win, serve and retain customers. And it won’t get any easier next year: With companies investing more than ever to differentiate their customer experience, your average offering will soon be considered poor.
In 2015, the race from good to great CX will hit the gas pedal. Smart CX teams will increasingly use customer data from diverse sources like social listening platforms, campaign management platforms, mobile apps and loyalty programs – to personalize and tailor experiences in real time so that they inherently adapt to the needs, wants, and behaviors of individual customers. And as companies strive to break from the pack and gain a competitive edge through the quality of the CX they provide, we’ll see the battleground shift to new areas like emotional experiences and extended CX ecosystems, and into laggard industries like health insurance and TV service providers, and even the Federal government.
As we do every year, we’ve just published our Predictions report for CX. I want to share a couple of those predictions with you:
Adobe Cesareans Cross-Channel From The Email Market
Image Source: Ronald Grant Archive
Over the summer, we were all treated to an abundance of headlines proclaiming that Adobe, Oracle, and Salesforce were engaging in a marketing cloud war. Yet the relevant acquisitions — Neolane, Eloqua, and ExactTarget, respectively — only engaged in border skirmishes, since each focused on the distinct, yet adjacent, markets of campaign management, B2B marketing automation, and email marketing. Indeed, each of the strategic acquirers either already had partnership agreements in place or agreed to partner on the heels of the acquisitions.
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?
I remember my first day at high school. Yikes it was scary. The older kids were BIG! The teachers were BIG (the phys ed teacher was even a little mean), the school was BIG . . . Everything felt so BIG! But as the year ticked by, l became familiar and comfortable with my classmates, teachers, and the school -- the place shrunk to a more comforting size.
Today marketers feel about data as I did about my first day at big school -- it’s BIG. There is lots of it, and it’s coming at them from many directions and in many forms. But data does not feel so big and daunting to the marketer who recognizes their customers buried in the fog of big data. The fact is, customer recognition is the key for marketers to make sense of big data; and it is at the heart of all effective marketing activities. I write about this in my most recent report: “Customer Recognition: The CI Keystone.”
So what is customer recognition?
Recognition associates interactions with individuals or segments across time and interactions. The strength of recognition is gauged on its ability to associate interactions to anything from individuals to a broad segment; and to persist those associations across different touchpoints over time.
Keys are needed for recognition at touchpoints. There are many types of keys, ranging from IP addresses, to cookie-based TPIKs, to phone numbers and customer account numbers. At Forrester we call them touchpoint interaction keys (TPIKs)
Today, Oracle announced that it will acquire Eloqua, a marketing automation firm. Oracle positions the deal as a comprehensive customer experience cloud that enables business to create an integrated, end-to-end process of marketing, sales, service, and support. I look forward to insight from my colleague Lori Wizdo on what the Oracle-Eloqua deal means for a marketing and sales alignment.
I think the deal has larger ramifications for the future of all customer relationship marketers and marketing vendors. Here’s my take on the deal:
ExactTarget today announced plans to acquire two companies: Pardot and iGoDigital. The acquisitions signal that ExactTarget, only recently public, intends to use its cash reserves to grow aggressively against the competition in revenue, market segments, and features. So what does it mean?
Are the two acquisitions related?
No, the dual acquisitions are a quirk of timing, allowing ExactTarget to drive the marketing technology conversation in advance of Connections, its user conference in Indianapolis next week. I’ll separate my comments to better address each.
Still, I’ll risk a theme for these two acquisitions: Marketing automation without predictive analytics is blind, but analytics without automation is empty.
Why did ExactTarget make the acquisitions now?
The acquisition is unlikely to make a big impact in the short term. Recommendations are a small part of the marketing software mix for retailers. ExactTarget can cross-sell online recommendations into its significant B2C base, but in the end, ExactTarget is acquiring the firm for a longer-term move.
Forrester's global Marketing Technology Adoption survey investigates:
What technologies do marketers currently use, and what do they plan to use?
How much do marketers budget for technology acquisition and operations?
What are the users' top goals for and pain points from marketing technology?
You can use the survey results to:
Provide justification for a business case in your 2013 technology road map.
Compare your spend levels and technology use to those of other marketing professionals.
Spot trends and see best practices to incorporate into your technology strategy.
The survey will close on Friday, August 3, and the completed research report will publish in early September. Once the research publishes, I will also present the findings in a Forrester Webinar and in advisory sessions to interested clients.
Extending core offerings through marketing technology. eCircle joins Teradata’s two prior investments in marketing technology: Aprimo Marketing Studio (AMS) and Aprimo Relationship Manager (ARM), which were separately acquired in previous years. Teradata confirmed that it will position the eCircle product within its standalone Aprimo division.
Complementing data warehousing with big data analytics. Through the acquisition of Aster Data, Teradata moved to beef up its presence in analytics for large-scale data sets, such as log files, clickstream, and sensor data. eCircle’s platform is built on a similar (Hadoop-based) platform, allowing marketers to co-mingle and analyze customer records, campaign data, online behavioral interactions, and more.
Cross-channel campaign management (CCCM) tools face mounting pressure to evolve in the face of continuous, interactive, customer-led dialogue. CCCM capabilities have matured dramatically, but marketers often ask, “Are the applications resilient enough to meet the massive challenges marketing organizations face today?”
Forrester clients can see how much progress vendors have made in “The Forrester Wave™: Cross-Channel Campaign Management, Q1 2012”. We identified, researched, and scored 12 products from 11 providers: Alterian, Aprimo, ExactTarget, IBM, Infor, Neolane, Oracle, Pitney Bowes, Responsys, SAP, and SAS. Our approach consisted of an 81-criteria evaluation; reference calls and online surveys of 156 companies; executive briefings; and product demonstrations.
We found that marketers need CCCM applications to:
Manage a complex array of marketing processes. The campaign design process alone is elaborate – and happily vendors provide strong, yet simple, design tools. Yet CCCM tools also aid marketers in planning (budgeting, spend management, and calendaring), analysis, tactical execution, and reporting.
Develop more strengths in digital and emerging media. Although most vendors have extended their applications, many client references told us that vendors need to clarify their approaches to social, local, and mobile applications, and how real-time decisioning can be applied beyond offer management.
ExactTarget filed an S-1 last Wednesday, November 23, the first step towards an initial public offering (IPO) by the end of March, 2012.1 The company grew substantially over the past several years and is tracking a 55% growth rate in 2011. ExactTarget now services about 4,600 direct clients and reports $148 million in revenue through September 30, 2011. Congratulations to Scott Dorsey and his team for guiding the company to this point.
How will ExactTarget's IPO benefit CI Pros? The IPO can:
Provide additional capital for research and development. The funds ExactTarget will raise through the IPO will help transform the company from an email service provider (ESP) into a full-fledged marketing technology platform. Increased R&D will allow the company to evolve through organic development and acquisitions. Both moves will help it to fill out its cross-channel campaign management and Customer Intelligence offerings. CI Professionals at mid-to-large enterprises should expect to see the company move more aggressively to offer enhanced enterprise marketing capabilities.
Enhance attractiveness to partners. ExactTarget's IMH has yet to catch on with heavy hitters in analytics, offline channel management, and marketing resource or operations management.2 The quarterly and annual disclosure requirements on ExactTarget could help clarify the company's plans to potential partners and assuage concerns about future competition. Stronger partnerships will lead to additional IMH applications for CI Pros.