Last month I contributed to Dane Anderson's excellent report "Asia Pacific Technology Predictions: 2014." As it's the time of year for predictions (and the occasional fireworks display and glass of champagne), I wanted to revisit my thoughts on what will be important in 2014 from a customer experience perspective, in addition to the predictions I made in that report.
We who research customer experience full-time and have been doing it awhile can't help but notice a change in how customer experience is being viewed by firms and organizations. Five years ago when I was last at Forrester, for example, the main thrust of our work was convincing business leaders that CX was something that was essential to invest in. Now our work has changed. It seems that the CX message has been received, and it's less about convincing firms that it's a good idea and more about gauging where companies are with their CX efforts and giving guidance on how they can achieve the goal of truly differentiating their businesses through the quality of the experiences they deliver (consistently and systematically).
So as I listen closely to what customer experience professionals, CIOs, and CMOs are talking about, it's clear to me that we're actually cresting the wave of a trend. Customer experience brings proven benefits, the C-suite gets it and funds it, empowered customers expect it, and companies that ignore this trend are going to be left behind.
Why do I feel so strongly? Because the business case for lead-to-revenue management delivers credible improvements in marketing program and sales productivity and can no longer be sidelined or ignored.
In research published earlier this month (subscription required), I talked to marketers, technology vendors, and marketing service providers deep into transitioning from competent campaigners to owners of the new customer relationship. Those involved in marketing automation today recognize that these systems not only affect revenue generation efficiency but also deepen the bonds between buyers and the firms that serve them.
What’s happening (that’s important) in the world of content marketing? This is your fortnightly* round-up of the best of the best stuff online for marketers who think about content; for the previous “Fortnights”, go to the bottom of the post. (And for more information about what the Content Marketing Fortnight is, see my intro from the first one. Get this curated newsletter in your inbox every other week – send me a mail.)
IAB publishes content marketing primer
Set up simultaneously with its native advertising task force (see below), the IAB’s content marketing task force has produced a content marketing primer. It is by no means sexy or compelling for content marketing practitioners, but it does give them a succinct, 6-page tool to explain the basics of content marketing (as well as a tacit endorsement from the IAB) for stakeholders.
IAB drops native advertising playbook same day as FTC workshop
I have lived in Australia for almost two years, and while my family in Canada loses power due to ice storms and snow squalls, I sit writing this post in 38-degree Celsius heat as Sydney experiences the first heat wave of the summer (but not the last). So, this time of year does not at all feel like Christmas to me. However, there are certain inevitable experiences that remind me that yes, indeed, this is the festive time of the year. Christmas parties, decorations and lights, mobs and mobs of people doing their Christmas shopping (in shorts and T-shirts), and for at least the past decade, the now-inevitable act of waiting for holiday packages from online shopping to arrive.
This is where this Christmas story really begins. eCommerce shopping is now a stalwart of the holiday season, as savvy shoppers do their Christmas shopping online to avoid the crush of people at the shopping mall. While this is definitely a stress-saver, the online shopping experience produces a new kind of stress — the stress of wondering if the package ordered will arrive in time for the big day.
One of Forrester's customer experience key frameworks is called "the customer experience ecosystem." This ecosystem is an observation of the fact that companies that deliver good customer experiences understand that their businesses exist in a highly complex network that extends far beyond the walls of their headquarters. This includes partners like agencies, suppliers, tech vendors, contractors, etc., etc. And all of these other residents of the ecosystem can make or break a great customer experience.
My name is Craig Menzies, and I am what Forrester calls a "boomerang." Forrester has a long tradition of welcoming back former employees who have gone off and done something a bit different for a while. In my case, I left Forrester at the end of 2008 in London and rejoined in August 2013 here in Sydney, Australia. In my previous role, I was a member of the global customer experience (CX) team and the lead CX analyst for Europe. While away from Forrester, I held several senior user experience and experience design leadership roles with agencies in the UK and Australia as well as ran my own independent customer experience and digital strategy consulting practice.
However, I am thrilled to be back as a principal analyst serving customer experience professionals and excited to be not only launching a dedicated customer experience research stream based out of Australia but also focusing on the rest of the Asia Pacific region. Most specifically, I will be spending a significant amount of time focusing on regions like Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, etc. Forrester believes strongly in both the need for more research in marketing and strategy disciplines in this region and these regions' demand for real relevant regional research.
My core remit is to provide world-class user experience and customer experience strategy services and research streams to this region, which I now call home. I am also very proud to be again a member of the global customer experience team and to have the privilege to represent our industry-leading thinking in the customer experience space. This includes our host of methodologies and frameworks that have helped customer-experience-obsessed companies transform the customer experiences they deliver. These include our frameworks for:
"A central technology hub that allows marketers to manage every interaction between the company and its customers as they progress along the customer life cycle."
There is a diverse group of vendors vying to become customer life-cycle marketing systems (CLCMS) providers, in large part due to demand from marketers to reduce complexity in their technology roster and help them make the shift from the marketing funnel to a customer life-cycle-driven discipline. Friday's not-especially-unexpected news from Oracle further reinforces the conclusions in our report. The press release succinctly makes the point:
"The addition of Responsys extends Oracle's Customer Experience Cloud, which includes Commerce, Sales, Service, Social, and the Oracle Marketing Cloud. By bringing together Responsys and Oracle Eloqua in the Marketing Cloud, for the first time CMOs that support industries with B2C or B2B business models will be equipped to drive exceptional customer experiences across marketing interactions and through the customer lifecycle from a single platform."
2014 is going to be a big year for B2C CMOs. We just published our "Predictions 2014: B2C CMOs Embrace The Post-Digital Landscape" report that predicts CMOs will: get creative with digital lifestyle media; get their hands dirty with customer experience; bring strategy to mobile; invest in marketing innovation; and reconsider their social networking priorities. Here are the five predictions:
Media decisions will focus on the intersection of audience and lifestyle targeting. In 2014, CMOs will invest in branded content, product placement, and advertising on lifestyle-focused YouTube networks with large audiences like StyleHaul (shopping, beauty and style), Machinima (eSports and gamer), and Tastemade (food lovers) where they can reach millions of consumers. These networks having growing Millennial and Gen Z audiences that cannot be ignored.
Customer experienceneeds C-level ownership. C-level execs need to blend marketing and customer experience leadership to ensure that the brand's promise is expressed at all touchpoints.
Mobile will rise from project to primacy. CMOs will grab control of the mobile strategy, increase mobile budgets, and bring the broader perspective of mobile's impact to the executive table in 2014.
This week, Facebook announced its rollout of auto-play advertising videos – starting with a teaser for the upcoming movie Divergent. The video ads automatically start playing, without sound, when they appear. Users can click on the video to view it with sound or scroll past it if they aren't interested.
Video definitely has the future. In a blog post by my colleague Michael O’Grady last year, he revealed that video was the fastest-growing digital content category. The Forrester Research Online Display Advertising Forecast, 2013 To 2018 (Western Europe) shows that European Internet users spent 68% of their online time in 2012 watching online videos, and we expect more than 90% of the online population to watch online video regularly by 2017. As a result, video advertising will account for a third of total display advertising spend in 2018.
As we end 2013 and look toward 2014, there is an old Japanese proverb that, in its simplicity, conveys some very profound truths. It goes something like this:
“If you sit on a rock for three years, it will get so warm that you will get used to it.”
What exactly does that mean? It means that accepting the status quo and staying within the familiar confines of 2013’s comfort zone can lead to complacency that CMOs cannot afford. The pace of change is accelerating all around you. Empowered business-to-business (B2B) customer behavior, the proliferation of engagement channels, and technology advancements all demand that B2B CMOs recognize, respond to, and exploit these changes — transforming them into opportunities for 2014 business growth.
Base 2014 strategies and plans on a strong data foundation.B2B CMOs must base product, messaging, and marketing execution decisions on data insights. Gut feelings, instinct, or “we’ve always done it this way” won’t cut it any longer.