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I just attended Unica’s annual Marketing Innovation Summit (MIS) this year in Orlando. I sat in on a few terrific conversations about making multi-channel marketing a reality. Here is the first: An overview of Intercontinental Hotel Group’s (IHG’s) use of data-driven marketing to improve communications with existing customers and prospects.
Lincoln Barrett, vice president for guest marketing and alliances, shared that, for IHG, building a customer-centric marketing strategy hinged on three different, but overlapping, initiatives:
Invest in technology
Expand into new frontiers
Build a centralized customer organization
Each of these initiatives is still a work in progress, but excellent progress has already been made in each one.
Invest In Technology
Step one here was to build a new data warehouse and real-time data mart that would allow IHG to match the data it was gathering through proprietary and third-party sources to existing customer information. This step also made it possible to gain immediate access to data for analysis or campaign building purposes – a significant upgrade to IHG's previous functionality, which updated records in batches and only made data available some 30 days after a customer incident (like a hotel stay).
The next step was to expand outbound campaigns beyond email. Technology upgrades (using Unica) automated internal campaign processes, created localization capabilities (for franchisees to create programs customized to their locale and customer relationships), and integrated call center data and activities with outbound campaign management. As part of this step, IHG also streamlined its formerly multi-agency model into a single global agency.
Multichannel customers have traditionally been more profitable for consumer product, service, and media companies. Consumers who shop both online and in-store spend more.
Multichannel media consumers have higher levels of engagement than those present in only one channel. The more one watches TV, listens to the radio, spends time online, etc., the more advertising they consume.
Mobile adds a new dimension, a new medium, and a new tool to allow brands to engage with their consumers. Mobile is an even more contextual medium than TV or online. Mobile phones are personal. Mobile phones tie into an environment. Certainly, location is one aspect, but “where” is more than location. “Where” can mean the living room at home, in the car, or in a store.
Forrester recently completed a case study on Yahoo! Fantasy Football. Fantasy football presents a unique opportunity, given that the majority of NFL games are played on Sunday. Not everyone can plunk down on the couch in front of the TV on Sunday to track their players. Moreover, most people don’t have the ability to follow multiple games at one time – at least in the level of detail required to follow all of their players on all of their teams. Historically (pre-Internet), fantasy football players had to wait until Monday or even Tuesday to get player stats and begin to compile their scores. The Internet offered players the ability to do this in real time. Mobile offers players the opportunity to follow their teams, players, and scores in real time anywhere. Mobile offers immediacy. Mobile frees participants to go out in the yard to play with the kids or run errands without losing track of their games, scores, and players.
Forrester surveyed US consumers about their satisfaction with Web-to-store and store-to-Web transitions in three retail segments — apparel/accessories/footwear, consumer electronics, and wireless phones and service.
The results: Satisfaction with both Web-to-store and store-to-Web shopping is low.
Consumer electronics: 66% satisfied with Web-to-store shopping, and 55% satisfied with store-to-Web shopping.
Apparel/footwear/accessories: 60% satisfied with Web-to-store shopping, and 53% satisfied with store-to-Web shopping.
Wireless products and services: 54% satisfied with Web-to-store shopping, and 48% satisfied with store-to-Web shopping.
I have a great job. My role, essentially, is to uncover the most interesting questions in interactive marketing (things like 'How should we measure our social media programs?' and 'What are the best ways to use online video for marketing?' and 'Can you really build a brand online?') and then talk to as many smart people as I can until I find some answers. I then get to present those answers in research reports, blog posts, speeches, teleconferences, workshops, and consulting projects.
If that sounds fun to you, and you have a couple years experience in marketing, you may want to consider applying for the Researcher job we have open in London. Our Researchers play a crucial role in all aspects of the research process: they help us find those smart people we talk to, and then help us conduct the interviews; they help us field surveys and analyze the resulting data; they contribute to our written reports -- and eventually write entire reports on their own. Along the way, they learn a remarkable amount about interactive marketing and the research process. And if they're good, like my last researcher was, they get promoted to analyst.
If you'd like to apply -- or you know someone who might -- we're collecting applications now. Check out the full job description, and apply using the online tool. And if you have any questions about the job, feel free to drop me a line: nelliott at forrester dot com.
Last week I met with a group in charge of driving improvements to the company’s enterprise customer experience. They’re a small team with a big task – make the company culture more customer-centric. What makes the challenge even harder is that this team lacks the formal authority to force other organizations to change the way they do business. Instead they have to make people want to do things differently.
During the meeting they asked a question that I often hear from clients – what have other people like us done that has worked? I had just completed a new report on that topic and was able to share some of the key findings from that research. Here’s a quick summary of what I told them:
Early in 2010, my colleague Bill Doyle published a report called 'Customer Advocacy 2010: How Customers Rate US Banks, Investment Firms, And Insurers'. This report includes trended Technographics® data that shows that US consumer trust in financial institutions is returning. One year after the financial crisis that brought the US economy to its knees, customers are more likely to say that their financial institutions do what's best for them, but not all of the financial sectors benefit equally.
Insurers score better than ever compared with other retail financial services firms. Smaller banks also do well, while some of the biggest banks again land at the very bottom of our rankings. And after years of rating higher than banks, investment firms as a group now score worst.
Forrester clients can access the report with the scores for 46 US financial companies here.
You have to have a plan. It has to be part of your budget for mobile. There are hundreds of thousands of applications let alone SMS programs and mobile Web sites. You'll have to be active in creating awareness and driving adoption and usage.
First, you build great mobile services that are appropriate to your audience, objectives and offerings (what services you offer).
Then ... you promote them! You promote them at your physical locations. You promote them online. You promote them at the ATM if you are a bank like Wells Fargo or Bank of America.
I was walking down University Avenue in Palo Alto on Monday evening and I saw these signs outside of Walgreen's. Ok, they are handmade ... well, look to be locally created and printed as opposed to being created and endorsed by corporate. It's a sign though that the local managers and pharmacists are engaged - they support the program and are looking to help drive registrations. I noticed the sign while walking down the street. Getting buy-in from local employees that can help educate consumers and drive registrations may be one of the most effective means I suspect of driving adoption.
When the Apple iPhone App Store launched a couple of years ago, we saw a flurry of marketing applications released. Some were exceptional. Many were average. iPhone apps were "hot," and consumer brands rushed to build them. They were somewhat expensive with most of the return based on press mentions and buzz. Brands felt that the perception of tech-savviness generated by the presence of an iPhone application would enhance their brand. I think they were right, but soon consumers began to expect iPhone applications. Initally, the iPhone didn't offer much reach. The iPod touch helped build the numbers. Apple's most recent announcement put total sales at over 80 million. Pretty good.
Two years ago, consumers mostly used their cell phones for communication. They also listened to some music and got a bit of weather, traffic and news. Now ... they do just about anything. They shop. They research products. They blog. They look up recipes. Are they doing so in large numbers? No, not yet. Consumers are a lot more likely to do more complex tasks on smartphones like the iPhone. The stakes are much higher for marketers - the potential return is higher with the ability to generate real leads and sales.
Here we are in 2010. Apple recently announced sales of 1 million iPads. Forrester believes that number will at least triple by year end. Apple has launched the iAd platform and promised consumers an engaging media experience that will include advertising, but not be disrupted by it. iAd includes the iPhone platform. iPads add another dimension or canvas that will unleash advertiser/agency creativity. We are now seeing our first marketing (first perhaps) and commerce (secondary?) applications. They are engaging. They offer rich media. They are interactive. They offer opportunities to link to videos, music, social networking sites, and shopping.
The increasing popularity of Apple’s iPhone and iPad – neither of which supports Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight – has piqued interest in HTML5 as an open source solution for creating Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). Steve Jobs’ recent attack on Flash as being unfit for the iPhone calls into question the long-term value of player-based application platforms. But can HTML5 really replace Flash and Silverlight?
To understand the user experience pros and cons of HTML5, Rich Gans – one of our Researchers serving customer experience professionals – talked to designers and developers at Cynergy Systems, EffectiveUI, Roundarch, and Yahoo! who are building complex online functionality. We have just published the results of this research in a report entitled “HTML 5: Is There Any Truth To The Hype?”
The truth is that while HTML5 is promising and can help improve experiences for text-based content, it is not yet a viable alternative to player-based technologies for designing rich, highly functional user experiences.
The downside to using HTML5 today is that it:
Could lead to inconsistent experiences across today’s browsers
Will require that users download a browser that supports the technology
Compromises performance for graphics-heavy experiences
However, there are a few places where HTML5 can help improve user experiences today, including:
Experiences for people with disabilities
Apps that are solely intended for Apple devices
Producing text-heavy sites that require text resizing
If you are in the mobile industry and you've never heard of Foursquare, there is something wrong with the way you keep up to date on new trends. Indeed, Foursquare is one of the most hyped social location services, enabling users to "check-in" to locations in the real world from pubs, bars and restaurants (through to any conceivable location) - sharing them with updates on social sites like Twitter or Facebook, wrapping points and benefiting from potential discounts. Foursquare recently announced it had passed the 1M users mark. The rate of growth is indeed quite strong, bearing in mind the company had just 170,000 users at the end of 2009. According to TechCrunch, Yahoo! was rumored to have made an offer above $80M to acquire the start-up! I am not a financial analyst, but let's say $100M for just 1M users seems high at first sight. So what makes it so valuable and why is foursquare being perceived as the new Twitter? Here are a few thoughts:
- First of all, foursquare is not the only one in town but is probably the one with the most active PR team. It struck some interesting deals with Metro newspapers, with TV channel Bravo, with Vodafone in the UK (on-deck and via SMS promotion) and more recently with even the Financial Times, if we believe business insiders. What makes it quite successful is its entertainment-centric approach. It is quite addictive as it is primarily an interactive game. There are others (not only Gowalla) such as MyTown (a sort of a real-world monopoly), which passed the 2 million active users mark a few days ago!