Dreaming of Contextual Marketing

Rusty Warner

At Dreamforce in San Francisco earlier this week, Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Scott McCorkle highlighted retailer Eddie Bauer’s strategy to make marketing so good that it feels like customer service and customer service so good that it feels like marketing. He may well have added that when marketing and service are well executed, they both begin to feel like sales – or at least the extension of sales environments that they are meant to support.

This thinking underscores the blurring lines between marketing and customer experience. Where does one end and the other begin? And does it really matter? Certainly to the customer it doesn’t; all he or she wants is a great experience that delivers value appropriate to the current context. So then, why do brands continue to let organizational or functional silos get in the way? It’s easy to say that legacy systems and processes still dictate what brands are able to achieve, but surely with today’s business technology capabilities, it’s possible to do better.

Brands highlighted at Dreamforce not only do better: they blend marketing, services and sales for a seamless customer experience. Take Fitbit, for example. Of course the Fitbit business model is based on interaction and context, but Fitbit has taken things to another level by ensuring that marketing content is fully incorporated into app functionality instead of pushing messages at customers. Up-sell, cross-sell and promotional content appear when contextually relevant and blend smoothly with customer services information and sales/transactional opportunities.

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The Customer Life Cycle: Single And Ready To Mingle In San Fran And London

Corinne Munchbach

About a year ago, I wrote a gentle but firm breakup letter from CMOs to the marketing funnel. They have a more attractive love interest who is in the relationship for the long haul; the perfect partner for the age of the customer. For many, calling it quits with the marketing funnel has been messy and difficult, leaving a lot of marketers desperate to move on, but pulled back to the familiar, comfortable arms of linear, campaign-driven, transaction-oriented marketing.

Like your best friend who was willing to be patient and forgiving as you repeatedly returned to your ex, it’s time I throw down the gauntlet: Commit to the customer life cycle or be left behind by your peers who get that the terms of engagement have changed. Loyalty, context, and relevance are the new black as customers outrun campaigns, have heightened expectations for brand interactions, and use mobile technology at remarkable scale. This is not the customer Elias St. Elmo Lewis was dealing with. Fundamentally different customer behavior demands new tools.

In the age of the customer, companies must be customer-obsessed, putting knowledge of and engagement with customers ahead of all other strategic and budget priorities. The customer life cycle is the framework that puts the customer at the heart of all activities, allowing the customers’ unique context and set of interactions define what their brand experience is.

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The Customer Life Cycle: Single And Ready To Mingle In San Fran And London

Corinne Munchbach

About a year ago, I wrote a gentle but firm breakup letter from CMOs to the marketing funnel. They have a more attractive love interest who is in the relationship for the long haul; the perfect partner for the age of the customer. For many, calling it quits with the marketing funnel has been messy and difficult, leaving a lot of marketers desperate to move on, but pulled back to the familiar comfortable arms of linear, campaign-driven, transaction-oriented marketing.

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The Data Digest: For Super Bowl Ads, The Games Have Just Begun

Anjali Lai

Between the tackles and touchdowns of Super Bowl XLVIII, about 35 brands went head to head in a competition for consumer attention by airing highly anticipated commercials at $130,000 per second. Which brands won? It’s hard to tell: Bets were in well before Sunday, play-by-plays have been highlighted, trends analyzed, and commentators are still discussing them.

The truth is that the games have just begun. For consumers, the Super Bowl ad spectacle is part of the “discovery” phase — the first of four stages constituting Forrester’s customer life cycle — as commercials educate markets about a new product or momentarily make an impression on individuals. The resulting waves of social chatter now rippling across the Web amplify each brand’s capacity to be noticed.

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How's That Move From The Funnel To The Customer Life Cycle Going?

Corinne Munchbach

Earlier this year, I penned a break-up letter on behalf of CMOs to the marketing funnel. Though some chief marketers initially were a little reluctant to follow through, in new research published today, we see that the vast majority of marketers recognize that the customer life cycle (CLC) is their partner of the future. In "The State Of Customer Life Cycle Marketing, 2013," (subscription required), we share the results from our July 2013 North American Customer Life-Cycle Marketing Online Survey of 80 senior marketers, a highlight of which is that marketers are overwhelmingly picking the CLC for all their customer-obsessed marketing activities (see figure).

In addition to getting a pulse on where companies are in their transition to a customer-first approach to marketing, we also used our assessment (subscription required) to benchmark performance on the five key dimensions of customer life-cycle marketing: strategy, organization, data and analytics, measurement, and technology. We find that:

  • Very few marketers can be considered leaders today. Only 13% of respondents can be considered leaders, and they have aligned strategy, organization, and data to drive their success. Laggards, those with the most to work on, make up 41% of the respondents, while aspirers were the vast majority, with 46% of respondents moving actively toward customer obsession.
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Where in the Customer Life Cycle do your audiences use social media?

Nate Elliott

You know by now that studying your audience's social behaviors is the first step in building a great social strategy. But most models for evaluating audiences’ social usage simply tell marketers how much their customers are using social -- rather than examining how commercial those social behaviors are, or what marketers should do in response to those behaviors.

To succeed in social media, we think you should map your audience's behavior to the customer life cycle. Why? Find out in our video below:

What do marketing organizations and doctor's offices have in common?

Corinne Munchbach

I was driving home from work the other day and listening, as usual, to Boston's National Public Radio station, WBUR, when a story came on about the push for doctors and hospitals to go digital by turning patient records into electronic health records (EHRs). There are a lot of tricky challenges that come with digitizing these documents: hundreds of products on the market to help with the effort, a steep upfront cost, lower productivity on day to day tasks while the system is implemented, the cost of accompanying hardware and maintenance, and a learning curve for doctors, nurses, and other staff. But as one of the office managers said for the story, the biggest challenge is actually "having everybody have a positive attitude to do it. If we can all keep positive and get through it and learn it...I think we'll be okay." Supporters of this effort cite improved cost and better, more efficient care - a win for all stakeholders - but in the early stages, it's hard for some to see tangible improvements.

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

Corinne Munchbach

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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Catch And Hold That Special Someone's Eye: Introducing Forrester's Touchpoint-Impact Framework For Marketers

Corinne Munchbach

Tell me you’ve had this problem. You wake up and stand in your closet, staring at all the different outfits to choose from and wondering which one is going to make just the right impression for whatever you have going on that day. Maybe you want to look authoritative and put-together for a client, be the cool parent to your kids’ friends, or be sexy to catch the attention of your objective's affection. Whatever the occasion, sometimes the wealth of options can be overwhelming and you end up panicking and trying to do too much or too little. And the next thing you know, that dream combo you had in your mind’s eye is out the window.

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Is Your Marketing Effort Truly Driven By Your Customers?

Corinne Munchbach

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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