To understand how open customers are to receiving messages from brands in social media, the question has to shift from “How social are our customers?” to “How social are our customers in their path to purchase?”
Given the amount of time consumers spend on social networks, marketers intuitively know they need to be present on social media but many still struggle to pin point exactly:
Why they need a social presence - or rather, how they can be relevant on social media,
How much resources to invest in social media,
And where to invest these resources.
Forrester has developed the Social Technographics Framework to help marketers address exactly these questions. Using Forrester data to analyze the social behavior of various consumer groups and their inclination to use social touchpoints in their interactions with brands, the framework helps marketers determine:
How important social media should be to their marketing plan
When their audiences rely on social touchpoints in their customer journey
What social touchpoints their audiences use, and to what ends
The holidays have a way of bringing people together in more ways than one – and every holiday season I’m reminded of just how universal the power of human emotion is. Regardless of lifestyle, background, and world view, people everywhere are truly emotional beings, moved by fundamental feelings of joy and sadness, hope and fear, love and loss. And anyone who has observed frantic shoppers careening through store aisles or the unbearable anticipation of children on Christmas morning can see that, at this time of year, emotions are at their peak.
Advertisers know holiday shopper emotions better than anyone; they have perfected the art of tugging at heart strings or prompting tears to spur a purchase. But as consumers wear their hearts on their sleeve, retailers broadly must be in tune with – and responsive to – customer sentiments. For example, when passionate shoppers turn to social channels, retailers mustn’t dismiss their cheering or venting. In fact, Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) data shows that consumers often experience their most positive brand interactions on social media – and remember them more favorably than engagements on websites, over email, through phone conversations, and even in person:
You’ve heard it before - consumers move from their smartphones to their desktops, from in front of their living room TV to driving by a highway billboard, from their emails to their Facebook News Feed. With this convoluted and dynamic path to purchase, are you prepared to understand and measure every touchpoint your brand has with its customers?
Bleary eyed baseball fans are waking up to the unimaginable: the beloved Cubs broke their 108 year old dry spell and won the World Series. Their quest to World Series champions was a mix of talent, dedication, heart…and data. Data, you say? Yes, data. Baseball franchises are enamored with using data to make smarter trades, shift line-ups, field position, and predict player performance. But how did the Cubs move to a data driven baseball organization? One man helped transform baseball from a gut decision strategy to using information, using data to make decisions: Theo Epstein.
Theo Epstein is credited for the breaking the Red Sox World Series curse using data and insights to make strategic player acquisitions, changes in field play, and predict how players would perform. He took his data talent over to the Chicago Cubs, where he made some major trades and empowered the coach to make data driven field and batting changes. His data driven approach helped transform the way franchises think about baseball. Less gut, more information to help drive decisions.
Marketers must embrace the baseball management mentality: use data to shift marketing strategies at the moment of need. Marketers can use past marketing performance data, customer insights, and competitive information to:
It's not about whether brands have value. It's about how to manage the value.
Twilight Of The Brands
In early 2014, our profession faced an existential crisis. The end was near, said James Surowiecki, in his New Yorker article, "Twilight Of The Brands." Look at Lululemon, he cried. The cult-like athletic wear brand was reeling from product failure and leadership indelicacies. And he referenced new research that said consumers were "supremely well informed," and did not need to "rely on logos" to determine value.
In The Pink Of Health
Turns out Surowiecki wasn't so well informed after all:
More is not better. It is true that the digital age brings with it more information about brands. More than many would care for, really. And therein lies the rub – this tsunami without filter or curation does little to clarify and more to confuse.
Brands signify more than information. The idea of brand as a signal of value is valid, although simplistic. More information may bridge quality and trustworthiness gaps, but a brand is much more. It conveys an emotional connection. Information plays no role in sipping a Coke or running in Nike.
Marketers are always falling in love with mobile’s latest “shiny new object” and new technology acronyms — 5G, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), NFC (near-field communication), RWD (responsive web design), etc. — and they’re constantly looking for the next platform, whether it’s virtual reality (VR), bots, artificial intelligence (AI), or the internet of things (IoT).
However, it is time to stop this quixotic quest for a paradigmatic new platform to replace mobile! Instead, recognize that mobile will activate these adjacent technologies to enable new brand experiences.
Over the past decade, smartphones have become a sort of black hole, integrating a huge array of sensors, but mobile is now exploding back out to our environments. Sensors and connectivity are expanding beyond smartphones to our wrists, bodies, cars, TVs, and washing machines as well as to buildings and “invisible” places in the world around us. The IoT is generating tectonic shifts among digital platforms and tech vendors, signaling a new wave of disruption, and unleashing new forms of competition.
The IoT is also redefining brand engagement by enabling marketers to:
Listen to their customers and analyze their real behaviors.
Create more frequent and intimate consumer interactions.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, F8 is a two-day event focused on developers, a crucial part of Facebook’s ecosystem. I was fortunate enough to attend, and though I have many takeaways, which I'll discuss in upcoming posts, the one that surprises me most is Mark Zuckerberg himself.
Zuckerberg’s rousing introductory keynote set the foundation for the two-day event. He kicked things off with an ambitious 10-year road map.
Let’s be honest: The most we see from companies today is a three-year road map or, for the adventurous, a five-year road map. Yes, Zuckerberg caught our attention once he took the stage; however, when the 10-year road map slide appeared, a new type of energy filled the venue. As a result, I couldn’t help but take a holistic look at his approach and name it “Zuckerberg 101.” For F8, this approach consisted of a foundational message, expectation setting, and an appeal to the audience. Take note marketers because this approach is one we can all use to foster connections with our audiences. It also helps us understand Facebook’s long-term strategy, along with its near- and long-term investments. Zuckerberg 101 consists of:
A foundational message. F8 2016's message is that Facebook’s mission of connecting everyone is everything. The 10-year road map echoes this vision with key milestones that aim to provide everyone with the power to share. All subsequent presentations reflected this theme throughout the event, creating a consistent message. Key takeaway: If you're trying to change the world (or anything else), make sure everyone knows why you’re in it to win it.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a teleconference highlighting IBM Watson’s success stories over the past year. Most of them are under NDA, so I can’t go into the details, but I will say they covered an incredibly broad range of use cases. One use case that I was hoping they would cover and didn’t was content analytics for marketing, aka “quantent.”
In the customer analytics arena, we often talk about “getting the right message to the right customer at the right time.” This is only partly true. Well-built and rigorously tested propensity models will deliver you the right customer and the right time. Behavioral segmentation models may even specify the best channel to use to deliver the message. But that still leaves the message itself. Whatis the right message?
Content analytics begins with entirely different data than customer analytics, and the two analytical streams merge just prior to the point of action. Whereas customer data contains information about customer profiles, transactions, and behaviors, data about content characterizes tone, length, wording, dates, products mentioned, type of offer (if applicable), and other key themes within the content itself. Most importantly, content that has been subject to A/B testing also creates data about the success of the message on an individual customer basis.
Combined, online display and social media advertising spend will double between 2015 and 2020, growing from €14.4 billion to €28.7 billion.
Among the factors driving growth, the combination of mobile and premium video advertising will drive an upsurge in demand for both online display and social advertising. Advertisers will increase their investments in video and mobile ads as media consumption evolves and targeting accuracy improves.
Native mobile video advertising is already proving a winning formula in the social media sphere, and publishers will take notice as they further refine their video ad offerings to provide more premium inventory, preventing a decline of video ad CPMs as supply increases. In fact, mobile ad spend will overtake PC as PC flatlines in the next five years.
Other developments will continue to disrupt online ad revenue in the next five years:
Programmatic will become the default mechanism for trading online display
Ad blocking will force new behaviors on the publisher side, and a greater struggle to hit the sweet spot between monetization and consumer experience.
Growing rivalries between Apple, Facebook, and Google for news aggregation services will further dis-intermediate publisher mobile advertising revenue.
For two days this week, I enjoyed Hubspot’s Inbound 2015 conference. Hubspot is an inbound marketing platform targeting small to medium-size businesses and each year the company holds a conference bringing together thought-leaders, customers, and partners. This 3.5-day event has over 250 sessions spanning a myriad of topics. Conferences provide different perspectives on the marketing landscape, customer success stories, product updates, philanthropic awareness, networking opportunities, and — my favorite — kernels that can be developed into themes with broader implications. I was happy to experience all those elements and walked away with more than a few kernels with broader implications. I’d like to share a few resulting from comments by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, Chris Brogan, and Mitch Joel. Let me forewarn you, these ideas may seem provocative, but they make for a good debate and even better research.