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.
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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.

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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.
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Is It Time You Accepted PayPal?

Benjamin Ensor

We've just published some new research on online shoppers' payment preferences in Europe. Payment habits across Europe remain diverse, with shoppers in different countries using different, and sometimes entirely different, payment methods to shop online.

One of the findings that struck me most during our research was the growing popularity of PayPal. That PayPal is used by many online shoppers across Europe is well known, and partly explained by the success of eBay. What struck me as new is how many big European online merchants now accept PayPal, among them leading fashion retailers and airlines. Perhaps I didn't spot that sooner because the British merchants have been much slower to adopt than those in Italy, Germany, France and Spain.

The growing acceptance of PayPal raises questions for two groups of eBusiness executives: 

  1. If you work at a retailer or other merchant, is it time you accepted PayPal payments online?
  2. If you work at a bank or card issuer, what does the growing use of PayPal mean for your relationships with your customers?
  3. For both groups, what payment methods are customers likely to want as they start buying from tablets and mobile phones?

What do you think?

If you are a Forrester client, you can read the full report here.

Time For Marketers To Move To Adaptive Planning?

Luca Paderni

Marketing planning has changed little in the past century. It's essentially a linear process built on the development of rigid 12-month plans built around brand and channel metrics. This approach is coming increasingly under strain as the combined effects of the growth of digital marketing platforms and a volatile economy demand marketing plans that deliver clear business outcomes and can adapt and improve to meet evolving market dynamics.

Over the past 12-18 months, we have come across several marketing organizations that have decided to do something about this situation and look for new ways to improve their approach to marketing planning by adopting some principles borrowed from a relatively new methodology originally conceived for software development efforts: agile development.

From the interviews that we did with marketers that are experimenting with this new approach, several of the key principles of "agile" development looked particularly relevant to innovating their approach to marketing planning:

  • A clear definition of business outcomes and associated business metrics
  • A dedicated cross-functional team
  • A deliberate test-and-learn approach
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Don’t Discount The Value Of Planning Tools To Your Online Testing Program

Joe Stanhope

In the past 18 months I've spent a lot of time working with Forrester clients on many facets of online testing (that’s a/b and multivariate testing for those of you scoring at home) spanning vendor selection, organizing and developing skills for testing, and building processes to support testing.

One of the general trends in online testing has been the democratization of access to marketing users. I think this is a positive development because successful online testing is a team sport that requires collaboration across multiple departments and skillsets. However, pulling testing outside of the exclusive domain of analysts puts a lot of pressure on vendors to supply tools that are suitable for non-technical audiences. This means providing easy-to-use, guided functionality, collaboration features, campaign preview facilities, extensive object reuse, and modern interface designs. And, to varying degrees, vendors are making progress in the area of user experience to meet these needs.

I have noticed that one of the features that often gets short shrift is test planning tools. In my experience, planning functionality has come forward as a crucial – and underrated – feature in situations where marketers or non-technical users will be involved in the development and deployment of online testing campaigns. To explore this idea further, I just published a new piece of research titled "How CI Professionals Can Plan For Site Optimization Success."

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Join Me On September 7th For A Discussion On Building Better Battle Cards

Dean Davison

For months, I’ve blogged about the reasons why battle cards are important, ways to evaluate battle cards, and most recently, the need for standards to tighten their value and give battle card creators and users common ground. In an upcoming webinar, that is open to the public and free of charge. I will tie this theme together with a focus on business impact.

Join me on September 7 for a public webinar by Forrester – Register here.

On the webinar, I’ll tackle a straightforward question:

“How do sales enablement professionals work cross-functionally to optimize sales content about competitors for reps so they can improve the win rate in competitive deals?”

I’ll outline the path forward for sales enablement professionals to collaborate with their peers in marketing, product management, and competitive intelligence to build better battle cards by:

  • Focusing on the problems that buyers are trying to solve
  • Prioritizing the criteria that drive buyer choices in purchase scenarios
  • Shaping your content based on how buyers perceive your company and competitors
  • Communicating the benefits and results that buyers care about

I hope you will join me on the 7th.

Interactive Growth Does Take $$ From Traditional Advertising, Even If Interactive Investments Are Not In Ads

Shar VanBoskirk

I've received a few questions and have seen some social conversations around the theme "marketing is not advertising" relating to my recent interactive marketing forecast. I in no way meant to imply through the research that marketing and advertising are the same thing, nor is this the point of the research. So if you are hung up on that notion, let me 1) provide a bit of background on the report, 2) recommend that you read the full report -- I think inferring conclusions from the summary slide published in AdAge may be confusing without our detailed definitions, and 3) iterate that the primary conclusion of the report is that spend on interactive media and technology is no longer experimental, but now established budget line items.

I've worked on this report since 2004, and the report originally began as an online *advertising* forecast -- sizing spend on online media, which at that time was primarily display ads. We've done the report 5 times since 2004, and with each new report, it became clear that budgets were growing to include other investments besides online media. So we have adjusted the forecast to best represent what is included in clients' interactive budgets.

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The Data Digest: The Power Of Video

Reineke Reitsma

Videos are definitely one of the strongest forms of media in our society nowadays, and there are 48 hours of video uploaded on YouTube per minute: from consumers sharing their creative expressions to companies uploading how-to videos about their products and brands.

These videos help many people in their purchasing process. My colleague recently had to shop for a car, and it’s been interesting to hear about her car shopping journey and how online videos helped her make the ultimate decision. She was interested in one specific car — the 2012 Ford Focus with the Sync with MyFord Touch comes as standard package. The challenge she, and Ford for that matter, encountered was that the majority of car salespeople aren’t that tech-savvy. While they are familiar with the horsepower and the smart-key entry feature, they really struggle to explain how to turn the car into a Wi-Fi hub or how the Sync system can read incoming text messages.

Trying to learn about every available optional feature, my colleague had to turn to the Internet for help. She was able to find demo videos on the Ford Focus website, on YouTube, as well as on her cable TV widgets. These online videos, produced by Ford, auto review sites, as well as tech-savvy online peers, really helped her understand how the optional features of this new product will enhance her ultimate driving experience. Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that videos created by other people are the most watched online type of video:

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What Makes A Community Successful?

Melissa Parrish

Anyone who follows my research knows that community management is one of my favorite topics. As I speak with marketers about their branded community efforts, the questions that come up most frequently are, “How do I know when my community is 'good?'" and “How many members do I need for my community to be successful?” Interestingly, these are the same questions people would ask me when I was a community manager, before I came to Forrester. Since these questions are clearly on a lot of people’s minds, I set out to answer them — analyst-style.

For my latest report, Community Benchmarking Metrics, I surveyed marketers with branded communities to try to nail down some standard measures of success. What I found was:

  • Standards come in the form of percentages, not hard numbers. For example, in communities that perform on par with averages, 8-12% of the unique visitors to the brand’s main website will visit the community. Of those community visitors, 4-6% will convert to become community members.
  • “Average” performance is consistent across communities of different types, from different industries, and with different goals. 
  •  To achieve typical results, community owners need to go back to basics: Make the community visible and don’t forget to promote it.
  • There are a few things marketers can do to beat the averages. My favorite: have at least one full-time community manager.
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