Developing Results-Driven Thought Leadership Marketing

Laura Ramos

 “Business buyers don’t buy your product; they buy into your approach to solving their problems.”

Most B2B marketers need to position their firms as thought leaders on the issues their buyers face. This is easier said than done, because marketing mindsets focused primarily on brands, products, and offerings makes it difficult for marketers to develop interesting content that captures their buyers’ attention.Forrester's Framework For Thought Leadership Marketing

A lack of skills and experience in developing customer-focused content make it difficult to produce engaging content. Our benchmark study showed 87% of marketers struggle to produce engaging content. (subscription required)  And most firms don’t have a process or framework for managing thought leadership marketing initiatives, so they push out product brochures and white papers thinly disguised as thought leadership content.

As a result, buyers don’t find B2B content engaging because the digital world gives them more power to form buying decisions alone. To intercept these buyers when they begin to discover issues and start to explore options; marketing and sales teams need to put your firm’s points of view out there for prospects and customers to see. Really provocative or forward-leaning points of view help to not only attract an audience, but build interactions.  Doing this is thought leadership marketing.

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How The Social Security Administration Hit A CX Trifecta With A Mobile App

Rick Parrish

The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program had a problem: It was paying out way too much in unearned benefits to program participants. This was happening because participants weren’t reporting their income often enough. As participants’ incomes went up, their SSI eligibility went down — but they continued receiving SSI benefits based on the lower income they had previously reported.

SSA used fundamental customer experience (CX) techniques to solve this problem. As a result, it ended up fixing not one problem, but three.

First, SSA and its contractor performed basic quantitative and qualitative customer research to discover why people weren’t reporting their income. The reason wasn’t fraud — it was convenience. SSA had made it too difficult for beneficiaries to report their income, so they weren’t doing it as often as they should. But how to make it easier? Solid CX design methods presented the solution: a mobile app.

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Which Bank Has Emerged Top In Forrester’s 2015 Singapore Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark?

Zhi-Ying Ng

Consumers in Asia Pacific have made the mobile mind shift—the expectation that they can get what they want in their immediate context and moments of need. This rings particularly true for consumers in Singapore, where smartphone penetration will reach a staggering 85% by the end of 2015. From researching products prior to purchase to booking of taxi services, consumers in Singapore are increasingly reaching into their pockets for their smartphones to get information and services in their mobile moments of need. And they have come to expect similar—if not better—information, digital services and customer experience from their financial institutions. It comes as no surprise then that competition in mobile banking has started to heat up in Singapore, with many banks enhancing their mobile capabilities to serve increasingly empowered customers. 

In our inaugural 2015 Singapore Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark report, we have evaluated the retail mobile banking offerings of four banks in Singapore using 41 criteria. We found that:

  • Banks in Singapore offer accessibility and convenience, providing a wide range of mobile touchpoints where customers can quickly log into their accounts to carry out key tasks, either on the web or on the app.
  • Most banks offer services that matter most to customers including balance checking, transaction history, and basic money movements.
  • Leading banks (such as DBS Bank and OCBC Bank) differentiate by offering next-generation value-added features, either by using augmented reality technology to help home buyers with their purchase decisions or by using mobile image capability to pay bills.
  • Yet, there is room for improvement for banks when it comes to leveraging context and analytics to gain a deeper understanding of their customers, and they can do more to cross-sell additional banking products and services through mobile
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Run On Smartphones Before You Walk On Smartwatches

Thomas Husson

Apple will sell more than ten million Apple Watches and dominate the smartwatch category in 2015. Despite the hype, this will only represent 1% of the 2 billion smartphones’ installed base. Should B2C marketers even care? Yes, because the Apple Watch is a good way to learn how to deliver extremely contextual experiences to a niche of early adopters and influencers. Because Apple Watch will boost sales for the entire wearable market, it is also a good opportunity to anticipate and innovate on connected objects.

However, smartwatches are a double-edged sword for marketers. On one hand, they offer unique opportunities to develop brand proximity and hyper-contextualized alerts for consumers in their micromoments. On the other hand, they risk damaging the brand by oversaturating customers with irrelevant messages and raising privacy concerns.

Most branded apps I had the opportunity to test did not deliver value. I even ended up deleting some iPhone apps that did not offer relevant messages. I think marketers should not even consider Apple Watch if they haven’t implemented a mobile messaging and push notification strategy. To differentiate among other apps, you must mature your push notification approach to deliver truly personalized experiences in the context of your overall customer relationship management.

For marketers having a more advanced mobile strategy, now is a good time to start working with app developers or their agencies to plan for native Apple Watch Apps by taking advantage of all the sensors on the device, and to build their own “complications”, mashups of data that would be pertinent for a given user at a given time.

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Twitter product pages are a mediocre idea, but a fantastic sign of progress

Nate Elliott

Twitter's had a busy few days. Last Thursday, the company opened up about Project Lightning, a new feature that'll make it easier for users to follow live events like the NHL Stanely Cup Finals. And Friday, Twitter announced two more new features: product pages and place pages will collect people's tweets about, well, products and places; and product and place collections will allow people to curate lists of their favorite products and places. 

It's fantastic to see Twitter innovating. These announcements mean the company has now launched more new features in the past nine days than it had in the previous nine years — and that'll be important if they're going to get back on track. And Project Lightning looks like a great idea. Twitter created an event-specific experience for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and credited that experiment with a boost in usage. Offering similar experiences for other events makes a lot of sense, and should bring more people to the site more often. 

But product-focused pages are unlikely to be the company's savior. According to our Forrester Technograhpics survey data, US online adults are more than four times more likely to research products on a search engine than on a product's social media page. And they're more than three times more likely to do research on a brand or manufacturer web site than on a product's social page.

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Online Retailers Go In Pursuit Of Europe's Valuable Cross-Border Consumers Worth €40 Billion By 2018

Michelle Beeson

A few weeks ago I was in Barcelona for the Global eCommerce Summit (GeS). One of the hot topics on the agenda, and during the coffee breaks, was internationalization. How best to evaluate and prioritize new market entry? How far do you need to go with localizing your website and the customer experience? How do you manage different market regulations and nuances?

The focus of these questions at GeS this year was the US and China. Yet, these questions also apply when considering market expansion in Europe. Forrester’s new Western European Online Cross-Border Retail Sales Forecast 2013 To 2018 shows the opportunity for eBusiness professionals, pursuing European expansion through cross-border sales, is growing. In fact, European online cross-border sales will reach €40 billion by 2018, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11% over the five year forecast period.

Key takeaways from the forecast include:

  • The majority of online cross-border revenues will stay within Europe. European online consumers who buy outside their home market are more likely to do so from another European market rather than those outside Europe.
  • More retailers look for growth across borders, broadening the competitive landscape. The number of EU retailers who sell online across borders will grow by a CAGR of 12%, with 28% of European online retailers selling across borders by 2018. eBusiness pros at retailers of different sizes and categories are actively pursuing valuable cross-border shoppers and international sales to drive growth.
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Join Our 2015 Global Mobile Executive Survey

Thomas Husson

For the past few years, Forrester has fielded a Global Mobile Executive Survey to understand and benchmark mobile initiatives. This year, my colleagues Julie Ask, Jennifer Wise and I are updating the survey again to help business executives and marketers benchmark and mature their mobile strategy and services.

Planning and organizing for the use of mobile technologies is a complex task. Integrating mobile as part of a broader corporate strategy is even more complex. However, some players are leading the way and working on infrastructure, staffing, and competencies that are hard to see unless you look closely. If you want to understand the role that mobile is playing in various organizations, what their objectives are, how they measure the success of their mobile initiatives, and a lot more, you just have to share with us your own perspective and we will aggregate the answers.

For your efforts, we will share a free copy of the survey results.

If you’re in charge of your company's mobile consumer initiative or if you’re familiar with it, then please take this survey.

Click HERE to start the questionnaire.

If you’re not familiar with your company’s mobile consumer approach, please forward this survey to the relevant colleagues who are in charge of defining or implementing your mobile consumer approach.

  • The survey takes less than 20 minutes to complete.
  • The survey will be live until September 7, 2015.
  • Responses will be kept strictly confidential and published only in an aggregated and anonymous manner.
  • Needless to say, we will filter responses and exclude irrelevant answers as well as answers from vendors, agencies, or consulting organizations.

Consumers Will Download More Than 226 Billion Apps In 2015

Satish Meena

Apple and Google have recently announced the total number of app downloads from their app stores over the past 12 months. Apps downloaded by by iOS users crossed the 100 billion mark in June 2015 — 25 billion of those in the past 12 months — while Android users have downloaded more than 50 billion apps in the past 12 months. Google did not announce a cumulative download figure, although we know that app downloads passed 50 billion in July 2013. It took Android almost 57 months to cross the 50 billion milestone, compared with about 59 months for Apple. Android app downloads have overtaken iOS app downloads due to the rapid adoption of Android-based phones in emerging markets. However, this does not include Chinese app stores serving Android users, such as  360 Mobile Assistant, Myapp, Baidu, MIUI, Wandoujia, Huawei, and Anzhi Market; our just-published Forrester Research Mobile Application Spending Forecast, 2015 To 2020 (Global) indicates that these entities will account for more than half of the expected 226 billion app downloads in 2015.

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Calling All Word of Mouth Vendors

Nate Elliott

Word of mouth isn’t just one of marketers’ favorite social tactics, it’s one of the most effective as well. But many word of mouth marketers still simply post content online and hope it'll spread — and this "post and pray" method rarely works. Forrester believes the real key to generating word of mouth is identifying people to speak on brands’ behalf and then motivating those advocates and influencers to action.

To help marketers create more successful word of mouth programs, Forrester is planning a Market Overview report that details which vendorsoffer Word of Mouth Platforms and what specific WOM technologies these vendors offer. Forrester defines Word of Mouth Platforms as “technologies that help brands identify customer advocates, employee advocates, and category influencers, and then activate those advocates and influencers to share messages on the brands’ behalf.”

If you’d like to be considered for this report, please email me at nelliott at forrester dot com, and we'll send you a questionnaire.

Time To Become a Digital Unicorn

Martin Gill

I’m happy to report a major milestone.

The final chapter of the Digital Business Playbook went live today.

It’s the Tools and technology chapter, which has been an absolute beast of a research project. After all, where do you start outlining all of the tools and technologies you need to transform your business to become truly digital? To digitize your business strategy?

The short answer is you don’t.

In most of our research for the Digital Business Transformation Playbook we’ve concentrated on finding and outlining best practice examples of traditional firms that are transforming to embed digital into the heart of their business strategy. As one of our Research Directors so rightly pointed out early in this research, “horses don’t like stories about unicorns”. It’s not so helpful for us to tell you “hey, just copy Amazon” when you run a retail bank with a chain of a thousand branches around the world.

But in this instance we do need to hunt for unicorns.

Because the unicorns are nailing it.

Firms like Amazon, eBay or Spotify manage digital technology on the massive scale, yet retain a high level of innovation and agility. So what sets them and other digital masters, apart from digital dinosaurs in their relationship to technology? What can we learn from how they plan, manage and invest in technology? What we found was:

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