Making Connections Through Exact Target

Shar VanBoskirk

I just spent the first part of the week at the Exact Target Connections Event. What a top-notch conference. 

  • 3,000 attendees
  • Assiduous attention to detail
  • Inspiring and fun speakers including a presentation from Aron Ralston whose survival story was retold in the movie 127 Hours
  • And terrific industry content – I’ll post the lessons I learned at the event in my next few posts. 
Read more

Smartphone To Call Center Agent: Seize The Cross-Channel Opportunity

Adele Sage

In the US alone, Forrester is forecasting nearly 100 million smartphones by the end of 2011. And digital customer experience professionals are meeting the new mobile demand by creating or redesigning mobile experiences: 34 of the 48 customer experience professionals we surveyed at the end of last year said that they’re planning major mobile design projects in 2011.

In the rush to create great mobile experiences, most end up focused only on what occurs within the browser/app experience. But we know that consumers often call the call center when they can’t accomplish their goal on the Web. And that transition isn’t always seamless.

Let’s say we have a customer using a mobile banking app to look up the balance on his mortgage. Once he sees how much is left, he wonders what his options are to refinance at a better interest rate. He can get some basic refi rates in the app, but he wants to know whether, as a longtime customer, he can get a better rate. He goes to the "Contact Us" screen in the app and clicks on the phone number.

What happens next? He starts at the top of the IVR. He has to identify himself all over again and route to an appropriate agent. Talk about a frustrating experience for the customer and a waste of time for the agent to recapture what he was doing!

Remember: A smartphone is also a phone.

If the browser or app experiences are built for seamless transitions to phone agents, they should:

Read more

“State Of Retailing Online 2011” Part Two Launched On Today

Sucharita  Mulpuru

Forrester recently published the “State Of Retailing Online 2011: Merchandising, Headcount, And Global Strategies” report in conjunction with our friends at It is available on (with a subscription) now.

Some of the reports highlights include:

  • Online retail continues to steal market share from other channels. “The State Of Retailing Online, 2011” survey shows an average growth rate of 28% for online retailers over the past year — this has been driven by improvements in retail execution including higher conversion rates, higher average order values, and strong repeat shopper revenue.
  • Investment in site merchandising drives conversion increase. While some tactics such as “ratings and reviews” are perennial merchandising investment favorites, more retailers now also are investing in merchandising through new channels, such as mobile. This report categorizes each of the 80 tactics reviewed as an industry standard, area of opportunity, investment area, or unproven tactic.
  • Headcount growth lags as overall eCommerce growth charges forward. Retailers maintain conservative growth plans — less than 10% — that largely don’t match up with the year-over-year growth of web retail overall. Focus currently is on mobile, marketing, merchandising, IT, and analytics.
  • Global expansion will be an investment focus, but not top priority. While 37% of retailers cited international commerce as very important, most global businesses still haven’t fully committed to that lofty title — remote management of global services, accepting returns shipped only to their home country, and English-only sites and customer service are still common practices for these “global” online retailers.
Read more


A Great Customer Experience Depends On Customer Understanding

Harley Manning

My colleague Andrew McInnes recently wrote a post about the tunnel vision that results when companies rely solely on analytics for understanding customers. By neglecting qualitative research methods like ethnography and related tools like personas and customer journey maps, firms run the risk of thinking they know what customers want and need but in reality not having a clue. And that’s the root cause of some of the worst customer experience problems — issues that can drag down a business.

Take the case of Kevin Peters, Office Depot’s president, North America. Kevin recently spoke at our Customer Experience Forum where he described the biggest puzzle that confronted him when he got his job. Even as sales declined, store mystery-shopping scores compiled by a third-party research firm were going through the roof. How could this be? How could customers be having a great in-store experience but not actually buying?  

As it turned out, the mystery shoppers had been asking the wrong questions. They were accurately reporting that the floors and bathrooms of Office Depot stores were clean and that the shelves were stocked with merchandise. But as Peters put it: “Who cares?” When he personally visited 70 stores incognito, walked the aisles, and talked to customers, he discovered his real problems. For example, the combination of very large stores, weak signage, and employees who weren’t all that helpful made it hard to find products. That resulted in customers who walked in determined to buy and walked out without a purchase.

Read more

The Data Digest: Profiling Digital Dads

Reineke Reitsma

One of the responsibilities of my role includes analyzing data in complex ways to help our clients understand how their target groups behave and if there are more relevant ways to segment them based on the results. However, sometimes it just makes sense to take a step back and look at some basic demographic profiles as a starting point for further analysis. We developed a new deliverable that we call Demographic Overview, and we kicked off the series with digital dads, followed by digital moms, and these will soon be complemented with digital natives and digital Seniors.

So why is it important for companies to look at dads? Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that s lightly more than one-third of US online men ages 18 to 50 are parents of a child younger than 18 living with them. Companies need to understand how the digital profile of dads differs from non-dads, as their behaviors influence the tech behaviors of their kids.

Some of our findings include that in general, dads are more likely to use the Internet as a resource, while non-dads are more active in entertainment-focused activities such as social networking. But dads know how to use social media to get their point across: 72% of dads who regularly engage in social activities have posted a review of a product or service on Twitter in the past 12 months, as compared with only 57% of non-dads.

Read more

Excited To Bring Fresh Insights To Forrester

Gina Fleming

As the newest addition to the market insights team, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Gina Sverdlov, and I recently joined Forrester as a consumer insights analyst.

I am very excited to be here! My background is in economics, consulting, advertising, and using quantitative methods to provide actionable insights for my clients. In my role here at Forrester, I am going to focus on bringing our multiple data sources to life and turning numbers to actionable insights. I am enthusiastic about engaging with our clients to devise strategies that will be successful in today’s changing market dynamics.

For my first Forrester document, ”Connection: The Spark That Lights Up The European Digital Home,” I’ve been looking at device ownership in Europe and how recent trends compare with the IHS Global Insight Economic Outlook. What I found, for example, is that laptop penetration in Europe has increased from 20% in 2006 to 51% in 2010 amid hefty declines in European retail sales in 2008 and 2009 and personal disposable income in 2009 and 2010. As a follow-up, I’ve identified how the uptake of different emerging technologies like LCD, plasma, and 3D TV correlate with ownership of other devices and where there are opportunities for consumer electronics (CE) companies.

Read more


Quick take on eCommerce in Brazil

Zia Daniell Wigder

I recently joined two of my analyst colleagues - Jennifer Belissent from Forrester's Vendor Strategy role and Jan Erik Aase in Sourcing & Vendor Management - in Brazil to speak with companies in our respective coverage areas. It was a fantastic trip: Well organized and incredibly useful in better understanding the business landscape.

On the eBusiness side, we had the opportunity to meet with a wide variety of companies in São Paulo and Rio, ranging from online retailers like Sacks and Comprafacil to eCommerce technology providers such as IBM and hybris to others like FedEx and Google. We also spoke at events organized by content optimization provider Arizona as well as Brazil’s eCommerce Committee.

We are working on a report that summarizes some of the key findings from those conversations – in the meantime, a handful of high-level takeaways from the trip:

Multichannel functionality has not arrived, but is coming. Multichannel came up in almost every conversation I had with companies in the online retail space in Brazil. While there are few options like in-store pickup or returns currently available on leading retailers’ eCommerce sites, the fact that many of the large traditional retailers are active in eCommerce means that multichannel functionality is poised to be a core area of investment going forward.

Read more

With Or Without Bartz, Yahoo! Lacks Vision

Shar VanBoskirk

Carol Bartz was fired by phone from her post as CEO of Yahoo! in what must have been a Trump-worthy conversation with Roy Boystock, Yahoo!'s Chairman of the Board. Tim Morse, Yahoo!'s current CFO will act as interim CEO and part of a larger executive committee to manage Yahoo! operations until a replacement CEO is found.

I like Yahoo! And I was optimistic about Bartz taking the reins from Yahoo!'s founder Jerry Yang, as I thought it signaled an desire by Yahoo! to aggressively course correct its languishing strategy.  But now I'm just disappointed. Three more years have passed and Yahoo! is the same sinking ship it was when Bartz took the reins.  Here is my take on Yahoo!'s situation.  Yahoo!:

  1. Has terrific online advertising capabilities.  The online opportunity is *still* a huge and growing one; we project interactive marketing will near $77 billion by 2016.  Yahoo! has tremendous traffic and user engagement globally which populates its monster user database that it is a pro at mining on advertisers' behalfs.  It's ad labs scale testing and optimization.  Its reach and available inventory is massive.  And its ad marketplace is making real-time ad buying mainstream.
Read more

On Marketing Technology, Castles, And Moats

Rob Brosnan

Over the weekend, an experience with Apple prompted me to think about marketing technology’s role in creating economic moats. According to Warren Buffet:

In days of old, a castle was protected by the moat that circled it. The wider the moat, the more easily a castle could be defended, as a wide moat made it very difficult for enemies to approach. A narrow moat did not offer much protection and allowed enemies easy access to the castle. To Buffett, the castle is the business and the moat is the competitive advantage the company has. He wants his managers to continually increase the size of the moats around their castles.

The moat around Bodlam Castle, a medieval castle built in 1385.

Apple’s retail presence is both a revenue engine and a cornerstone of its customer experience strategy. Retail pulls in average revenue of $10.8 million per store for Q3, 2011, generating the highest retail sales per square foot of all US retailers. Importantly, the stores guarantee the company a beachhead from which the company can educate consumers and resolve problems directly. For the quarter, 73.7 million people visited Apple stores.

Read more

What's Happening With Forrester's Battle Card Standards?

Dean Davison

For those of you following Forrester’s project to create industry standards for battle cards, I want to give you a glimpse into the group’s progress and remind you about Forrester’s public webinar on September 7, where I’ll touch on battle card standards in more depth.

Each member of the standards group has success stories with their battle cards, but each member also struggles to change battle cards from being “random acts of sales support” to providing consistent, reliable support that helps sales reps win more deals. The purpose of our standards initiative is to do just that – identify and repeat how battle cards help sales reps win competitive deals.

Last week, the standards group reviewed the first draft of specifications for battle cards. Getting these definitions correct is important because all the downstream work we will do depends on these specifications. Our working document defines for battle cards the:

  • Purpose. Battle cards help sales reps anticipate and respond to competitive obstacles in the later stages of competitive deals.
  • Scope. Battle cards build on a point-counterpoint structure by identifying the competitor’s claims and equipping sales reps with responses.
  • Intersections. Battle cards must be consistent with competitive positions established in market overviews, pitch decks, and “marketectures,” RFP responses, and other sales tools.
  • Design point. Battle cards fuel customer conversations by addressing competitive issues through the lens of solving the customer’s problem, focusing topics that are core to the customers purchase decision.
Read more