Industry analysts travel—a lot. It is, therefore, no surprise that I care deeply about airlines’ frequent flyer programs and track the changes to those programs as closely as baseball obsessives track star players’ slugging percentages. When I want information on what these changes mean practically in my situation (Will the new loyalty program make it harder for a 75k+ elite member looking to book a companion ticket’s upgrade on an alliance partner airline, for example), I typically do not turn directly to the airline. Instead, I log on to Flyertalk, a forum that bills itself as “the largest expert travel community.” The forum—populated by thousands of frequent fliers far more obsessive than I will ever be—consistently houses discussions of exactly the thing I want to know.
The lion’s share of people answering questions on Flyertalk and other forums like it—Cruisecritic for the cruising fans, TripAdvisor for travel and hospitality broadly, AutomotiveForums for car enthusiasts, etc.—are other consumers, albeit well-informed ones. But these non-brand controlled communities provide opportunities to brands to differentiate themselves through service. Because affinity communities have barriers to entry, including registrations and jargon, community members are usually deeply interested in the topic at hand. In communities that regularly discuss brands, these customers are also more likely to be exactly the type of high-value customers that companies want to provide with great customer experiences. But brands need to decide when and how to engage customers in these forums they do not control.
In Asia Pacific, there is growing recognition that the old way of marketing — driving awareness through push advertising — has sputtered and slowed in the wake of media fragmentation and the disruptive power of digital. Marketers need a new framework to align their marketing decisions to the customer’s experiences with the brand to define customer engagement, budget allocation, and organizational skills.
However, many companies are still in the adolescent phase of social marketing; they have crested the initial wave of social likes and followers, but are now stuck on the next steps. Few have managed to crack the social marketing conundrum — that of showing meaningful return on their social marketing investments. Marketers need to understand and map the customer journey — from enabling discovery to supporting exploration, purchase, and engagement. Astute ones will map each stage of the customer life cycle to an objective from Forrester’s marketing RaDaR model. To create discovery, the objective should be reach. To support exploration, depth is the objective. To nurture engagement, focus on relationships.
As the importance of technology to consumers continues to grow, pretty much anyone working for a company that wants to improve their customer experience needs to understand consumers’ technology behaviors. Questions companies ask include: “How did US consumers’ technology use change in 2014?” “Who are the early adopters of wearable devices?” “Are older adults using digital media?” “Are Millennials really ready to cut the cord?” These are just a few of the questions we answer in our newly released report on The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2014, US. This data-rich report is a graphical analysis of a range of topics about consumers and technology and serves as a benchmark for consumers’ level of technology adoption, usage, and attitudes. Our annual benchmark report is based on Forrester's Consumer Technographics® online benchmark surveythat we've been fielding since 1998.
Asia Pacific marketers have moved from experimenting with social media in the recent past to integrating it into their marketing mix. However, a large number are guilty of setting and measuring metrics, such as vanity metrics, that do not inform the next course of action.
To increase your chances of social marketing success, you must:
Build an understanding of your audience. Brands all too often mistake social media platforms as a broadcast channel and rave about their own products and services without first understanding the conversations going around them. Astute marketers will first deploy listening platforms by studying the social behaviors of their target audiences and the context of their conversations. Forrester’s Social Technographics® will tell you both how social your audience is and the types of social behaviors in which they engage.
Invest in social marketing based on clear business outcomes. Many Asia Pacific marketers are still allocating media budgets based on user consumption of media — or worse, on how budgets were allocated in previous years. But this model is obsolete, thanks to new methods of accessing data and harnessing technology. Marketers must be able to answer which specific social activities drive specific business outcomes and boldly reallocate marketing investments based on these. For instance, marketers must show how their Facebook strategy has driven fans to their eCommerce site and helped stimulate them to complete a sale.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Pinterest for the past year. I first planned to write a report about the social upstart last summer. When that deadline passed, I was certain I’d produce something in the autumn. Now here we are in the dead of winter, and at long last today we published our report on how marketing leaders should use Pinterest.
The reason it took so long? Pinterest is confusing. It’s a bundle of contradictions: at once it offers marketers huge potential and huge frustration.
On the one hand, there’s so much opportunity:
Pinterest boasts a fantastic audience. In fact, 21% of US online adults visit Pinterest at least monthly — nearly as many as use Twitter and more than use Instagram and Google+. Those users spend freely online, they’re willing to engage with brands in social media, and when they talk about products on Pinterest they drive vast amounts of traffic to brand sites.
Pinterest’s data has the potential to drive more sales than Facebook’s data. After all, Facebook users generate mostly affinity data: information about their tastes and preferences, based on their past experience with brands and products, that’s better suited to targeting brand advertising than direct marketing. But Pinterest users don’t only share historical affinities; they share the kind of purchase intent data that’s more commonly seen on search engines like Google. And just as ads targeted with Google’s data generate outstanding direct response, so will ads targeted with Pinterest’s data.
The start of a new year provides an opportunity to take stock of our environment and do things a bit differently. This year, I am addressing the role microvideo can play within a marketing strategy.
Though we all enjoy receiving information about items that are of personal interest, we may find we have a few “go-to” sites. This may be due to the presentation of the content, the ease with which we can interact with it, or a host of other reasons. Microvideo is versatile and provides numerous opportunities for marketers. Let’s use color as an analogy for this type of content. I have certain colors in my wardrobe because they work across a multitude of other colors. Marsala, Pantone’s 2015 color of the year, is described as an “elegant, grounded statement color when used on its own or as a strong accent to many other colors.”
Microvideo is similar. It can stand on its own or supplement targeted interactions with your customers. Just take a look at what Lowe's has done to keep us inspired.
I'm frequently asked, "What makes a winning Forrester Groundswell Awards program?" To help you prepare your submissions, here's an example of a winning social depth entry from PGA TOUR Superstore last year and why it stood out:
Yesterday, Proofpoint announced it will acquire social risk and compliance (SRC) vendor Nexgate for approximately $35 million.
The Acquisition Signals The SRC Market Is Maturing
This acquisition points to a budding and rapidly evolving SRC market. With the proliferation of social media, organizations face a slew of emerging regulatory challenges, brand threats, and security vulnerabilities – just look at recent incidents with Cole Haan, Zarbee’s, US Airways, British Gas, among countless others, even including our own US military. While once a niche market helping financial services firms meet FINRA obligations, SRC solutions now offer more than just compliance support, helping organizations better manage today’s wide gamut of social risks with social threat detection, account protection, and risk monitoring.
Proofpoint Has To Prove The Sum Is Greater Than Its Parts
When I was in high school – and admittedly that was quite a while ago — my neighbor quit his job as an insurance salesman to go into the car phone business. My mother couldn’t understand why someone would give up a good, stable job to sell something that she couldn’t imagine anyone ever using. Who would use a car phone? Why would anyone talk on the phone in a car?
Fast forward a few years… (OK, a few more than a few)… and most of us can’t imagine not having our phone with us. We use our phone everywhere… And, yes, according to Forrester’s 2013 Consumer Technographics survey, 68% of US online adults use their phone in the car, and 48% even use their phone from the bathroom. Who’s guilty?! As for my mother, she has still never used an ATM card at a bank and still writes checks for cash at the grocery store, but she DOES have a cell phone and just might have used it in the car once or twice.
Language is evolving; the written word is giving way to visual vocabulary.
Interpersonal communications are shifting from being text-based to image-based, and you don't have to look far for the evidence: We spell using the Emoji alphabet; we comment with photographs; we engage through pictures.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that consumer adoption of visual social networks is growing and that social chatter is becoming increasingly pictorial. Forrester's Consumer Technographics® data shows that US online consumers across generations are interacting with content on Instagram and Pinterest more than before:
As consumers become increasingly versed in the language of visual content, curated images become a powerful means of expressing opinions, conveying emotion, and recounting experiences. As a result, pure text analytics no longer suffice to interpret social chatter; instead, insights professionals have an opportunity to mine the wealth of media-rich data that increasingly pervades social networking sites.