Recent Fundraising Activity Validates The Potential Of Online Testing

Joe Stanhope

In the past month we’ve seen not one but two online testing vendors secure new rounds of financing:

  • Optimizely raised $1.2m in November from a group of angel investors; more info here.
  • Monetate raised $5.1 million this month from First Round Capital, Floodgate Fund, and other institutional investors; more info here.
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Cisco Continues To Accelerate Its Partners’ Marketing

Peter O'Neill

By Peter O'Neill

Now here is some “earned media” for Cisco. In the context of full disclosure, let me first say that Cisco invited me to its Partner Velocity conference in Barcelona last week, full expenses paid. I stopped by for two nights and one day while traveling home to Stuttgart after a client workshop and meetings in Paris. But this is earned, not paid, media because I was truly excited by what I saw and heard. I’d like to share it with all of you tech marketers; whether you are at Cisco, or a competitor, or a partner-player in one or more of the ecosystems in our industry, you need to sit up and take notice of this event. To close my first point — a trip to Barcelona may sound attractive, enough to merit a “reward” for any organization that took me there. But I actually turn down more than 60% of my briefing and event invitations: I have to produce work as well (and who wants to go to Las Vegas eight times a year). And I certainly do not promise anybody that I will write any type of reports in return.

This was Cisco’s third Partner Velocity conference, and I’d heard great things about it from its partners, so I was eager to see what would happen. This is a conference for partners worldwide (first held in the US, last year’s was in Paris) and here’s the reason I was excited: Its focus was purely on MARKETING. Nobody presented about Cisco products, the sessions had titles such as:

  • Stand out and move up while your competition fails.
  • Effective paid search strategies.
  • How to build engaging customer relationships through CRM.
  • How to design a lead nurturing program that drives sales.
  • How to use existing customers to gain new ones.
  • Unleashing the true power of social media.
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“Twitter For Toddlers” Is Inspiration For Social Customer Experiences

Kerry Bodine

Two Finnish service designers recently unveiled a prototype for a social media toy that’s constructed out of a classic Brio shape-sorting box outfitted with magnets and LEDs. Called the IOBR (the first few letters of its Iobridge tech backbone and an anagram of Brio), a small child can use the toy to let her friends know what she’s up to. Yup, it’s a toddler-sized status update.

Toddler places a square block into a square hole

From the designers’ Web site: “The actual status update is done by placing the appropriate block in its designated place on the box.  For example, an ‘eating’ update is sent by placing the square block with the ‘plate, spoon, fork’ icon in the square-shaped hole on top of the box. This results in the illumination of the corresponding status light on the friend’s device.”

The system has received press from major media outlets dubbing it “Twitter for toddlers.” CNN reported: “No word yet on . . . whether or not you're going to want your kid to learn about these status updates, so to speak, at such a young age.” But focusing just on the IOBR’s status update feature is really missing the point of this project. 

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Please Take Our Survey On Loyalty Marketing

Luca Paderni

Loyalty currently is at the top of my research agenda. Why? I think that marketing organizations have been approaching loyalty with uneven success by adopting established approaches mainly based on points or rewards. Maybe we should look at loyalty from a wider perspective and try to embed it in our efforts to build a better brand experience for all customers. I’d really like to know what you think about this topic.

If you're a senior marketer, I'd appreciate it if you'd take the time to answer here .

What can you expect when you click on that link?

Your answers will help me get a better understanding of how marketers see loyalty initiatives as a component of their plans, if they are happy with their loyalty programs and if there are common pains that marketing organizations share around loyalty. Why? Well, we think that loyalty needs to become a higher priority for marketers to get the best returns in the future, and we think that to do so, we maybe need to rethink our overall approach to loyalty, moving the focus from rewards to a consistently satisfying brand experience.  

At least, that’s what I’m thinking right now . . . you tell me. I look forward to your responses. 

Killing Me Softly With Kinect...And Leading Me To The Next Big Thing

James McQuivey

This will be an unusual post for me. No big industry event to comment on, no data to reveal. Nope. Today, I'm just sharing with you how much fun I (and 5 million other people by year-end) am having with Kinect.

Xray of my injured fingerYes, that is my hand, and yes, that is more of me than you expected/wanted to see. If you look closely at the big knuckle on my index finger, you'll see two white slivers embedded in the flesh above the knuckle. Those are slivers of glass. They are embedded there because in going up to smash a volleyball over the virtual net, I slammed my finger through a lightbulb, tearing the flesh from my knuckle and allowing random pieces of glass to find their way into my finger.

No, I am not going to sue Microsoft (though I'm sure someone else will eventually try, which is why Kinect is absolutely peppered with warnings to be careful, they are clearly anticipating a lawsuit at some point).

It turns out I'm not alone. Search YouTube for "Kinect Fail" and you will find lots of video of people elbowing each other, smacking each other on the head, and so on. In my older New England home, all of my guests above six feet tall have a tendency to smash the ceiling with their hands -- one very tall friend actually did the long jump with such enthusiasm that he smashed his head into the ceiling. Both the ceiling and the head survived in tact.

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The Data Digest: Who Uses Location-Based Services?

Reineke Reitsma

Location-based social networks (LBSNs), apps that are downloaded on a mobile phone, offer organizations  a possibility of right-time, right-place marketing by connecting people and nearby points of sale with geotargeted media. Forrester's Technographics® data shows that only 4% of US online adults have ever used location-based social networks, such as FourSquare and Brightkite, on their mobile phones, with only 1% using them more than once a week. Although the uptake is limited to a small group, this doesn't mean that LBSNs are not useful.

Looking at the profile of location-based app users, we see that they are:

  • Influential.Geolocation users are 38% more likely than the average US online adult to say that friends and family ask their opinions before making a purchase decision.
  • An interesting target group.They are typically young adult males with college degrees.
  • Heavy mobile researchers.They are also far more likely to search for information about businesses and products, as well as read customer ratings/reviews of products and services
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Employee Authenticity (And The Cheese Guy At Whole Foods)

Kerry Bodine

I stopped by my local Whole Foods the day before Thanksgiving to pick up some appetizers. And as I deliberated at the cheese counter, I couldn’t help but overhear what one cheese monger said loudly to the other: “This lady came up to me complaining about the store. This store’s too small, you don’t carry the things I need. I told her she’d have to talk to customer service. I mean really, I just work here.”

I just work here??! Did I honestly hear someone say that? In Whole Foods? Not only did this guy undermine the Whole Foods brand with his interaction with the original customer, but he made a bad personal decision to relay his story in front of other customers!

As Steve Portigal mentioned in a comment on one of my previous posts, employee authenticity is key to great customer experiences. (To see just how bad an inauthentic customer experience can be, check out my last post, "Worst Online Chat Ever!") But employee authenticity is really only effective if it aligns with a company’s brand attributes. Being an authentic jerk isn’t going to cut it in customer experience land!

A lot of employee behavior comes down to corporate culture — and in his "How To Build A Customer-Centric Culture" report, Paul Hagen mentions two things in particular that I think directly influence employee authenticity. Companies need to:

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What 1D Product Codes Did Consumers Scan This Shopping Season? Toys ...

Julie Ask

ScanLife reported that the amount of scanning traffic was 30x higher during Thanksgiving weekend than one year ago. Wow! Product purchases from the application were also up nearly threefold. Books were most purchased. Toys were most scanned. See this story on PR Newswire. This Forrester report offers our perspective on a developing technology.

The State of Cross-Channel Attribution

Fatemeh Khatibloo

As you may have read, I've just published a report entitled "Untangling the Attribution Web" (subscription required). In the course of researching that report, it became clear that, despite the many years of discussion surrounding what's commonly called "fractional attribution," there's still a dearth of organizations who have successfully implemented a measurement approach beyond legacy last-touch allocation methods. Financial services firms get close, especially those who are using marketing mix modeling. And a handful of retailers are executing a cross-channel attribution strategy, but many of them are still battling inconsistent metrics and channel conflict. So we found ourselves wondering why adoption of such a critical business initiative has stagnated.

As a result, we've created a very brief survey for attribution vendors and multichannel marketers to help us assess the current state of attribution. The survey will give us some visibility into the key challenges and opportunities surround attribution, and why its adoption is lagging. And, it will help guide our next report, wherein we'll provide an organization readiness assessment for attribution, and lay the framework for its successful implementation.

Please take five minutes to complete the survey; all responses are anonymous and only reported in aggregate. The next report will go live late this month or early in January, and participants will receive a copy of the published report.

Vendors, please go here.

Marketers, please go here.

Google eBooks Paves The Way For Ad-Supported Publishing

James McQuivey

Brace for impact. What I'm about to say is going to make a lot of people angry, including some of the people at Google who are going to rightly point out that when they pre-briefed me on today's Google eBooks announcement, we never once discussed ad-supported reading.

Instead, they told me all about their plan to establish a set of tools that will offer eBooks to people looking for book information through Google's search engine. They explained that this will make it possible for the millions of people who conduct book-related searches every day to have easy access to 3 million books -- some out of copyright, some out of print but under copyright, and a full range of in-print titles including bestsellers. They also described how independent booksellers will be able to use the same set of web-based commerce and reading tools to build their own branded eBook stores to finally extend their brick-and-mortar customer relationships into the digital space.

Since then, I've spoken to half a dozen reporters who were also pre-briefed and they have all had a similar set of questions: can Google compete against Amazon (no, but it can compete against Barnes & Noble), is it too late to make a dent in a mature market (no, less than 10% of online adults in the US read eBooks, there's plenty of room to grow), is Google's cloud-based strategy unique (yes and no, it supports all devices except the Kindle, but the Kindle platform actually supports as many devices as Google will). 

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