Is Google+ Going To Kill Facebook?

Nate Elliott

You'll have to forgive Facebook if they woke up this morning thinking the sky was falling; if they were subject to the same avalanche of news, comments, and questions about Google+ as the rest of us were for these last 24 hours, it'll seem like they've already been condemned to the social media scrapheap. And in case Facebook needed any reminder of how quickly social networking pioneers can fall, Google+ was launched on the same day MySpace, once supposedly valued at $12 billion, was sold for just $35 million to an ad network.

As my colleague Josh Bernoff points out, however, it's a bit too early to write Facebook's obituary. First, we have to consider the fact that Google hasn't exactly lit the social world on fire in the past: Google Buzz was largely ignored, Google Wave was largely ridiculed, and even Orkut may be starting to lose its famous lead in Brazil. Then there's the fact that Google+'s key feature — the ability to organize your friends into "circles" and share certain content only with certain circles — isn't exactly new: Facebook already offers "lists" that let you target which content is seen by which friends.

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How To Build An Interactive Brand Ecosystem

Nate Elliott

A couple months ago I talked about the reasons interactive marketing is ready to lead your brand -- namely, that it offers scale that can compete with any other channel, it provides more depth than any other channel, it’s more trusted by consumers than any other marketing channel, and it provides marketers a richer storytelling palette than any other channel.

The logical next question is: If interactive is ready to take the lead, how do we make that happen? A lot of people think budget is the answer; they say if we simply push more spending online we’ll have a better chance to leverage interactive tools. But I’m not fixated just on budget, for two reasons. First, more than 70% of marketers are already taking budget out of traditional channels to fund new interactive spending -- so this budget shift is already under way. But second, and much more importantly, is the fact that simply pouring more money into interactive tools won't fix the flaws in how companies develop their marketing programs.

For me, leading your brand with interactive marketing isn’t about choosing one channel over another; it's about rethinking how all our marketing channels work together. The way we "coordinate" our marketing channels right now is broken: Even today, most marketers develop their TV ads first and then hand them to the interactive team and hope they can build a site or a banner campaign that matches. As we've all seen, this rarely works well.

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The Customer Experience Ecosystem — Visualized!

Kerry Bodine

Last week at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum, I gave a keynote titled "The Customer Experience Ecosystem," which is a framework for helping companies understand the complex set of interdependencies that are ultimately responsible for shaping all customer interactions.

After the forum, I gave an encore presentation to a group of customer experience leaders at Fidelity Investments. The coolest thing about this meeting? Fidelity had engaged an artist from Collective Next to help it visualize the outputs of the session. Fred Leichter, Fidelity’s chief customer experience officer, told me that these visualizations help the team members see and think about their work in a more creative way.

So as I spoke, master scribe Marsha Dunn illustrated my presentation:

For those of you who heard my keynote, I hope this helps you keep some of my main points top of mind. You can also download my keynote slides on our event site.

For anyone who was unable to attend the forum, let me know if this piques your curiosity about customer experience ecosystems — I’m happy to fill you in on the details! Or, check out the full report.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to map your own customer experience ecosystem, please join my teleconference on Wednesday, August 17, 2011, 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Eastern time (18:00-19:00 UK time).

Why CMOs Must Learn To Understand The Customer Experience Ecosystem

Kerry Bodine

Companies are waking up to the business value of customer experience. Many have made customer experience a strategic priority and have dedicated teams to oversee customer experience efforts. Yet consumers report that their customer experiences with roughly two-thirds of US brands range from just OK to downright bad. Lackluster interactions plague every industry and every channel.

The root cause of this dilemma? Tunnel vision.

Many organizations place too much emphasis on top-of-mind channels such as the Web and social media, ignoring hundreds of touchpoints that influence customers' perceptions of the brand — such as call-center conversations, retail displays, product packaging, shipping invoices, and physical receipts. In addition, companies place too much of the responsibility for customer service on frontline employees — but in reality, behind-the-scenes employees from departments as diverse as finance, legal, and marketing can play an equal or even greater role in determining the nature of customer interactions.

Take Sprint's marketing department as an example. Because this behind-the-scenes team did not promote the benefits of Sprint's network in its ads — and competitors' marketing departments did — customers perceived the Sprint network to be lagging, regardless of the actual network performance they experienced.

To find out how CMOs can help their teams take an honest look at how they influence each touchpoint along the customer journey, please hop over to Advertising Age for the full post.

Is Your eBusiness Prepared For The Arrival Of .Brand Domains?

Peter Sheldon

A fundamental transformation of the way brands and consumers connect on the Internet is amid us. Icann, the authority responsible for Internet domains, has approved a plan to expand the 22 currently available domains (.com, .net, etc.) to allow trusted brands and organizations to apply to own and operate their own gTLDs (generic top-level domains). In just a few years, new brand gTLDs will impact the way consumers search for and find products online as recognized brands switch away from .com to their own .brand top-level domains. URL paths used today for categories, products, and marketing campaign landing pages (e.g., www.apple.com/iphone) will be replaced by new shorter, catchier URLs (e.g., iphone.apple).
 
eBusiness professionals must carefully evaluate this change and start the process of mapping out how owning their .brand domain will impact their eCommerce sites. I recommend that Forrester clients read our latest research report written by my colleague Jeff Ernst and myself, .Brand And The Impact For eBusiness, which outlines the reasons why eBusiness leaders and their marketing counterparts must carefully evaluate the significant opportunity that owning gTLDs for the their brand or brands presents.
 
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Beware The Tales Of The Social Commerce Loch Ness Monster

Sucharita  Mulpuru

In my ongoing-yet-fruitless quest to find the great social commerce success story, I’ll talk to anyone who will talk to me  about the topic.  I talked this week to a "venture capitalist" who shall remain nameless, and we had the following conversation:

VC: I’ve seen social commerce success. I have. I’ve seen commerce success on Facebook.

Me: Really? Are you referring to maybe one of the marketplaces on Facebook? Or ShopSocially?

VC: No, no one’s heard of this company. No one in the Valley has heard of this company. Only I know about this company.

Me: And this is a business that can scale?

VC: It’s sooooo scalable.  I’ve seen it scale. 

Me:  Really?

VC: They make millions and millions of dollars. I’ve seen it. 

Me: Can you tell me who you’re talking about?

VC: I . . . I’m not at liberty to say the name. They want to stay under the radar. They don’t want anyone to know about their secret sauce. 

Me: Really?  They’ve discovered something that no one, not Silicon Valley, not Facebook’s army of developers, not any retailer in the world has yet to discover?

VC: Hey, I don’t need YOU to believe me! I’m happy to just make my money. 

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Product Launch Metamorphosis: From Introverted To Social Butterfly

Kim Celestre

Product launches often have a reputation for being constrained by tightly managed internal processes, cross-organizational misalignment, and closed communication loops. So how does a tech marketer improve the experience? I have been involved with many product launches and events during my 15-year career in the high-tech industry and have seen the good, bad, and the ugly of each of these constraints. In my experience,  social media has provided the "good." It loosens internal processes by allowing customer conversations to influence the direction of a product launch. It brings organizations together through the sharing of data captured by monitoring tools. It opens communication by allowing internal product launch teams to interact with customers, in real time, throughout each stage of the launch. If done correctly, all of these benefits will lead to more effective (and successful) product launch events.  My new "The Social Tech Product Launch" report shows how it is possible to turn your inverted product launch into a Social Butterfly.

How have you used social media and listening platforms in your product launch processes? 

Mobile Commerce, There's An App For That

Peter Sheldon

Mobile apps are undoubtedly cool, and executives at leading online retailers have been mandating a presence of their brand in the Apple and Android app stores, but eBusiness professionals must focus on building a cohesive mobile strategy that clearly identifies the case and role for apps within their organizations. Apps are great ways to engage with your customers, but will they deliver incremental revenue above and beyond what the mobile Web is already doing? In her recent mobile commerce forecast, Sucharita Mulpuru explains that mobile commerce is set to transform retail, despite only accounting for 2% of online web sales today. In my new report The State Of Mobile Commerce Apps, I peel back the covers on the hype and take a serious look at why, when, and how eBusiness professionals should approach their mobile app strategy. Some of the issues I explore include:

  • The mobile web versus app debate. The debate is irrelevant, consumers are using both in equal measures; however, developing an app for apps' sake is missing the point and will only disappoint your customers. eBusiness professionals must develop unique app experiences that deliver multichannel innovations and raise the engagement of the consumer with your brand.
  • Keeping up with the explosion of consumer touchpoints. Having an iPhone app was the priority back in 2010, but in 2011 many eBusinesses are adding Android, iPad, and Windows Phone 7 apps. The opportunity for apps also extends beyond the consumer. Retailers are investing in apps for store associates empowered with mobile devices, in-store kiosks, and interactive TV.
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The Mobile Commerce Train: Coming But Not Here Yet

Sucharita  Mulpuru

After social commerce, mobile commerce is the most heavily debated topic-du-jour among retailers these days. One thing that both social and mobile commerce have in common is that they are both small. Teeny in fact. Forrester’s Mobile Commerce Forecast, 2011 To 2016, which launched today, shows that retailers can expect 2% of their online web sales (yes, I said web sales which means a minuscule percent of overall retail) to be transacted through mobile devices in 2011.  While we also expect mobile commerce sales to grow 40% each year for the next five years, we’re still talking small numbers overall (7% of web sales penetration by 2016).  Why so small you may ask.  After all, aren’t smartphones changing the way we consume web content?  Some things to consider:

  • Tablets. We don’t include tablet shopping in our definition of mobile shopping, but the creation (and subsequent explosion in sales) of this device is probably the single biggest inhibitor to the growth of “mobile commerce.”  Data that we gathered with Bizrate Insights (to be released separately and soon) indicates that most tablet owners also own smartphones, and many of those people naturally prefer to shop on the device that has the larger screen when given the choice.
  • Shopping never leads web behavior. In any list of activities that people do on the Internet, shopping nearly always ranks below things like “reading news” or “using social networks.” Even those activities are not universal among the smartphone set, so it would be premature to expect that shopping would rank high on the list (which it, of course, doesn’t). 
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The Data Digest: Urban China’s Mobile Internet Use Is Double That Of The US

Reineke Reitsma

While it is no news that China leads the world’s online population, hitting 477 million users as of March 2011, it is interesting to look at the uptake of mobile Internet in urban China and see how that compares with other regions. Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that urban China is chasing Japan closely, with 43% of mobile phone users reporting they access the mobile Internet at least monthly. This number doubles that of the US (although the US number represents all Americans, rural and urban), which ranked as the third market in this study. While my gut feeling tells me that urban China’s mobile Internet adoption is comparable to that of the developed markets, this result is still striking because the smartphone market in China did not kick off officially until the end of 2009.

Just last month, China Mobile, the dominant mobile service provider with 60% national market share, announced its plan to lower rates for both calls and data plans by an average of at least 15%. And on Monday, China Daily reported that the number of China’s microbloggers was forecast to reach 100 million this year and will increase to 253 million by 2013.*

The booming popularity of microblogging in China, coupled with the fact that mobile Internet is becoming more affordable, means that urban Chinese will not forgo the convenience that mobile Internet provides. We know another wave of growth is approaching. It is just the matter of how high the wave can reach.

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