Amazon Silk Is Amazon's Secret CI Agent

Rob Brosnan

The new Amazon Silk promises to speed tablet web browsing. It also provides Amazon's core business with a secret weapon against other retailers. Amazon Silk is essentially a browser that, by default, routes all traffic through a proxy server. Amazon's back end consolidates multiple calls for images, libraries, and cookies into a single request. The proxy can even pre-fetch future page requests by users (think of search results pages).

Is Kindle Silk Amazon's 007?How does Amazon Silk provide a competitive advantage to Amazon? Each Kindle Fire device is registered with an individual who is known to and maintains an extensive purchase history with Amazon. Amazon Silk allows Amazon to collect the users' browse behavior beyond Amazon-owned web properties. Regardless of where customers make purchases and whether those products are digital or material, Amazon can use the data collected to its advantage.

Amazon's new layer of Customer Intelligence permits it to:

  • Improve customer recognition. Amazon can maintain customer identity without facing the problems of cookie deletion or Flash LSOs. Should users access Twitter or Facebook through the browser, Amazon will have access to social identity as well.
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Some Observations On The Evolving eCommerce Landscape In China

Zia Daniell Wigder

Last week I joined a few of my colleagues in China to meet with a variety of eBusinesses in both Beijing and Shanghai. We met with online retailers, technology companies, and other players in industry. For those used to selling online in countries other than China, some of the takeaways included:

Multichannel remains in its infancy. With the leading online retailers in China being pureplays, multichannel remains at very early stages. In-store pickup or returns are not widespread – however, there are emerging multichannel initiatives. In a recent, high-profile online-to-offline expansion, for example, Taobao opened a new furniture showroom in Beijing to enable consumers to experience different furniture brands sold on the site. The furniture sellers rent out space in the showroom to display their products. We had an opportunity to visit the huge showroom, which was somewhat quiet when we were there – terminals stationed throughout the showroom (see below) enabled consumers to insert a card and select products online, then proceed to checkout to pay.


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The Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) Vendor Landscape Evaluated

Roxana Strohmenger

Over the past year, my colleague Andrew McInnes and I have immersed ourselves in the world of enterprise feedback management (EFM), which we define as follows:

A system of software and processes that enables organizations to centrally collect, analyze, and report on feedback from key customer groups and tailor insights for various internal users.

During this time, it has been a great experience talking with vendors and clients about how this technology tool enables companies to bring all of the customer data and information collected across channels together into one platform. This ability is more important than ever given that we have entered the “age of the customer” — a period marked by the rise of the empowered customer, who is armed with more information than ever before and who is now using a rapidly evolving set of devices as a means of engaging not only with friends and family but also with companies anytime and anywhere. To be successful in this new world, companies must understand how consumers interact across these multiple touchpoints; failure to do so can lead to a fragmented view of the customer.

While it is clear that companies must embrace EFM, what is not as clear is how they should navigate the EFM vendor landscape. This is due to the dozens of small vendors, evolving market segments, and increasing M&A activity. To help professionals within the marketing and strategy organization, Andrew and I decided to conduct a Forrester Wave™ evaluation of the EFM vendors.

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Seeing The Wood For The Trees – Summarizing The Esomar Congress

Reineke Reitsma

Earlier this week, I attended the Esomar Congress in Amsterdam. It was a home game for me, but even I was impressed by the location and its very Dutch look and feel; I felt proud of my country (of course it helps that I’m a big fan of stroopwafels, poffertjes, mature cheese, and bitterballen).

Not only were the surroundings impressive, but so were the presentations. Only a couple of the 20 or so that I saw were average. Most presentations gave a good overview of a new methodology, the client side of the story, and the challenges faced. My personal highlights included the Heineken/TNS presentation, in which they used neuroscience (or more precisely electroencephalography [EEG], biometrics, and eye-tracking) to measure how relevant viewers felt the ad was to them, how excited they were by it, and what areas of the screen they looked at while it played. You can find the summary by Robert Bain of Research Magazine here.

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How Marketing Mix Modeling Is Adapting To New Technologies And A Heightened Demand For Marketing Accountability

Luca Paderni

Marketing mix modeling solutions have been around for quite some time, providing marketers in several key categories with complex statistical models that aim to find the correlation between past marketing activities and business outcomes, like sales or market share.

However this space has recently seen significant changes, due to a few specific dynamics:

  • The proliferation of digital and social media with increasing importance in the marketing mix.
  • Marketers' increased demand for tools that are not only able to deliver insights on past campaigns but also able to give forward-looking recommendations on how to improve marketing return on investment (ROI) in the future.
  • The rising role that sophisticated software plays in integrating the ever-growing number of data streams and in enabling complex analysis to be navigated and customized via powerful graphic user interfaces.

To help navigate this complex and highly relevant space for senior marketers, our research team has published the first Forrester Wave™ for vendors in the marketing mix modeling space. We screened more than 30 vendors, shortlisted six that we consider to be the key players in this very fragmented market, and ranked them according to more than 40 different criteria. The evaluation uncovered a market in which:

  • MarketShare, Marketing Management Analytics, and ThinkVine lead the pack.
  • SymphonyIRI is a Leader but lacks collaborative functionalitites.
  • Marketing Analytics and Ninah are competitive Strong Performers.
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Customer Experience Ecosystem Mapping: The Workshop!

Kerry Bodine

I’ve been talking a lot lately about customer experience ecosystems. And I’ve been getting tons of questions from people who would like to learn the tools and processes for mapping their own ecosystems.

Good news! Paul Hagen and I are hosting a Customer Experience Ecosystem Mapping workshop in San Francisco on Wednesday, November 16. During this full day of presentations, hands-on exercises, and discussions, you’ll learn how to use Forrester’s ecosystem framework to:

  • Detail a specific customer journey and key touchpoints. (If you’ve got them, bring your existing personas and customer journey maps.)
  • Identify the people, processes, policies, and technologies that influence those customer interactions — both the parts of the ecosystem that are in plain view of customers as well as those parts that influence the customer experience from behind the scenes.
  • Identify the root causes of customer experience problems.
  • Prioritize fixes to these problems.

You’ll leave with a solid start on your own ecosystem map — and the know-how to complete it back at the office with your extended team.

Ecosystem mapping is a collaborative exercise, and we feel you’ll get the most out of this workshop if a colleague joins you — so we’re offering a 10% discount to companies who send two attendees.

For more details, please check out the Customer Experience Ecosystem Mapping workshop page on our website.

We hope to see you in San Francisco!

Analytics Needs A "Creative" Makeover

Srividya Sridharan

Analytics and creativity are seldom used in the same sentence. The natural instinct is to delineate the two as left-brain and right-brain pursuits. Analytics and creative teams speak different languages, use different tools, and find inspiration in different places.

Customer Intelligence (CI) professionals are usually closer to the world of analytics. They capture, manage, analyze, and apply heaps of customer data using advanced analytical tools and techniques. But in order for them to step out of a perceived geeky image, CI professionals should think about how to add a dash of creativity into their roles.

Analytics made its way to the creative world especially with various testing tools, but has enough creativity made its way into analytical projects? How can analysts and CI pros add some creativity?

  • Ask the same questions, differently. Arriving at the hypothesis or questions to pursue when analyzing data can be an output of a creative brainstorm. Framing the question to ask of the data is as important as the analysis itself.
  • Summarize data in creative ways. New types of data are pushing the limits of what traditional data mining and analytical tools can do. This requires creative ways of uncovering relationships between seemingly unrelated entities.
  • Make the data sing. Data visualization as both a data-mining tool as well as a presentation method is fast becoming popular to communicate complex trends and results into a digestible format, especially when the audience is not analytically inclined.
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Why Don't European Marketers Spend More On Social Media?

Nate Elliott

European marketers are as excited about social media today as ever before. In fact, according to our annual survey, three-quarters of interactive marketers in Europe either already use social media or plan to use it by the end of 2011 – and they expect social media marketing to grow in effectiveness more than any other online or offline marketing channel in the coming years. But there’s a problem: European marketers still aren’t spending very much on social programs. In fact, a quarter of the marketers in our survey plan to spend less than €35,000 on social media this year – and many of the rest won’t spend much more than that. And most European marketers said they had no plans to increase their social media budget this year compared to last.

I think this lack of spending is both a symptom, and a cause, of problems inherent in how European marketers use social media:

  • It’s a cause, because the resources aren’t there. One of the biggest problems social media marketers face right now is a lack of resources. When it comes to social media they have trouble finding budget, staff, time, and even good help from their agencies. And that actually makes a lot of companies afraid of success. You’d be surprised how often I hear statements like "I want to start a Facebook page, but what if it takes off? I don’t have the budget to staff it full time!" When marketers are afraid of success, rather than failure, then you know you’ve got a problem.
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Corporate Customer Experiences Need Startup Mojo

Kerry Bodine

I’m a Dropbox customer. I originally signed up for the basic plan — 2 GB for free — but ran out of space quickly and decided to upgrade to 50 GB of storage. So I forked over my $99 and got the following confirmation page:

A gold star! A hand-drawn cartoon! Now I know this page wasn’t designed specifically for yours truly, but when I saw it, I felt special. Like the people at Dropbox actually gave a damn that I had just given them $99 of my hard-earned money. 

Compare that with the $700 I spent recently for several nights at a large hotel. My final bill was printed on a plain white sheet of paper and was so devoid of any brand messaging that I feared it would raise eyebrows with our finance department! Consider the $1,600 I just plunked down for a multi-leg transcontinental flight. The airline’s confirmation email didn’t waste any time trying to sell me on a rental car, hotel room, and credit card — but didn’t even wish me a pleasant trip. Or take my credit card company — which processes tens of thousands of dollars of business expenses for me each year. When I look at my bill, the things that pop out are how much I owe them, by when, and a late payment warning — key pieces of information, yes, but reading that bill leaves me feeling like I need a shower.

These small touchpoints — a receipt, a confirmation email, a bill — play a functional role in customer interactions. But they also represent prime opportunities for companies to reinforce their brands and (perhaps even more importantly) make customers feel good about where they spend their time and money.

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Yahoo's Potential Suitors Are A Motley Crew

Fatemeh Khatibloo

My Customer Intelligence colleagues and I, like many others, can't help but wonder how Carol Bartz's departure from Yahoo! is going to play out for the digital behemoth. Shar VanBoskirk's post last week summarizes Yahoo!'s current state, and I agree with her assessment that the company's assets are worth far more piecemeal than as a whole. As she points out, Yahoo!'s advertising capabilities are one of its greatest assets.

But from a CI perspective, so is its OpenID-based Yahoo! ID, which enables single sign-on (SSO) functionality for its more than 273mm global email-service users. Now, while a relative minority of those users actually take advantage of Yahoo! ID across the web today, the demand for SSO and federated identity is growing such that Yahoo!'s broad user base and consumer trust is already tremendously valuable. 

So, who are the "unusual suspects" that have the most interesting opportunity for acquiring Yahoo!'s personal services/communications/identity management business? 

  • Wal-Mart. Yep, you read it right. Wal-Mart, despite being the world's largest retailer, continues to lose digital market share to Amazon, and it clearly wants to change that. Last month, it restructured its online organization to better align with its brick-and-mortar presence and just this week announced plans to to buy "key assets" of mobile ad targeter OneRiot. Yahoo! ID would give Wal-Mart the single sign-on capability that it doesn't have today, with some nice benefits over Amazon's closed-ecosystem identity service. And Yahoo!'s user base is, demographically speaking, a slightly better fit for Wal-Mart than other major big-box retailers.
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