Nice To Meet You!

Melissa Parrish

As you might have read, the Interactive Marketing analyst team has been growing. What you might not know yet is that I’m one of the new recruits.

I’m one of those practitioners who’s been working with social media since before we called it that — early on at Bolt.com and most recently at Time Inc. Check out my profile for more details about me.

I imagine it’ll come as no surprise that social media is one of my coverage areas. I’ll be looking at the operational, tactical side of social media — especially topics related to community management. Speaking of which, my first piece of writing as an analyst was published in this month’s issue of CRM Magazine. If you have a chance to read it, I hope you’ll come back here and share your feedback.

In addition to social media, I’ll be tackling some emerging topics for interactive marketers, like e-readers and other mobile devices. My early research agenda is sketched out and my first document, a checklist to prepare for community management, will be published in the next few weeks. Following that, I’ll be working on the Community Platforms Forrester Wave, but if there are particular questions you have about any of my coverage areas, or specific pieces of research that would be of interest or help to you, please add a comment and let me know.

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The Data Digest: What Keeps US Internet Users From Buying Online?

Reineke Reitsma

In the past few months, I've regularly posted Data Digests on people's online shopping behavior. However, not every Internet user actually buys products online. Our Technographics® data shows that about 57% of European Internet users and about two-thirds of US online adults have purchased something online in the past three months. Concerns about privacy, delivery, and returns keep the others from making a purchase; women feel more strongly about delivery costs and the need to see (and feel) the product before they buy than men do.

When asked what would motivate them to start purchasing products or services online, lower shipping costs (43%), lower online prices (42%), and the ability to return products easily (27%) top the list. Retailers have to make the cross-channel shopping experience as easy as possible to cater to the needs of those online consumers who do research products but don't purchase them online — yet.

Google's Economic Impact Report: Just A PR Ploy?

Shar VanBoskirk

Today Google announced that it had generated $54 billion worth of economic activity in the US in 2009. The report, which shows state by state economic contribution, bases Google's total value on three factors: 1) Sales driven through AdSense and AdWords; 2) Ad revenue generated for publishers through AdSense; and 3) Google grants. As a research analyst, I'll admit that you can make numbers tell any story you want to, and my gut here is that this report is principally a PR effort to: 1) Communicate some altruism about the Google brand that has been getting some bad press of late; 2) Simplify the complex transformation Google has brought to advertising into a simple, single number; 3) Shift the focus away from questionable strategic decisions that Google has recently made. I wholeheartedly believe that Google has transformed advertising and is almost singularly responsible for the phenomenon of biddable media buying which I think will ultimately replace relationship-facilitated media buys across channels. But I don't believe that Google stimulated $54 billion worth of business. I think what Google did do is provide a new revenue stream to small businesses and site owners, catalyze some new sales, and take a share of commerce and media expenditures that would have happened anyway.

CEO As Chief Customer Officer

Harley Manning

In preparation for our upcoming Customer Experience Forum in New York at the end of June, I’ve been having phone discussions with our speakers and their people. Yesterday Robinette Dixon from Sprint pointed out something I hadn’t quite realized. Two of the companies that are speaking have a lot in common despite the fact that they could hardly be in more different industries.

First there’s Sprint. Dan Hesse took over as CEO of Sprint, which is headquartered in Kansas, in December of 2007.  He immediately made customer experience a priority and set out to ingrain customer experience into the company’s culture and processes. You can see evidence of the results in the 15 percentage point rise Sprint made this year in our Customer Experience Index.

Then there’s H&R Block. Our Day Two speaker, Sabrina Wiewel, is Chief Tax Network Officer at that company, which is also based in Kansas. But the bigger coincidence (no, this isn’t a post about Kansas) is that H&R Block also got a new CEO recently: Russ Smyth, who took over in August of 2008. Like Hesse, Smyth made customer experience a priority. Among other changes he literally flipped the corporate org chart upside down to put customers at the top, and re-engineered how the field offices interact with customers.

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Mobile Research Calls For Creative Research Approaches

Reineke Reitsma

When I came back from holiday last week and looked at my mail, I was delighted to see that the most recent issue of Research World (the ESOMAR magazine) had a number of articles on mobile research. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, mobile research has really won me over (see also my report, The Challenges And Opportunities Of Mobile Research for full details). The “anytime, anywhere” aspect of the mobile phone, combined with people's emotional attachment to it, makes it an ideal device for people to share their thoughts and opinions in a research context.

When reading the articles in Research World, however, I feel that the industry is missing out on a great opportunity. The emphasis of the conversation here is on mobile research's methodological challenges, such as sampling, guidelines, and research bias. I agree that there are still some hurdles to overcome with regards to representation, costs, technology, and privacy, but I believe market researchers shouldn't get too caught up in these but should instead embrace mobile phones as a new research channel and look for innovative research approaches.

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Please! Don't Shoot Your Social Media Messenger

Peter O'Neill

It has been quite a week for me. I’ve been finishing off a client study of tech buyer Social Technographics -- 130 enterprises in their home European country. The data is good: consistent with what we had already gathered in our published work (see our April report); but of course, we have collected much more detail around this client’s specific market. But the client does not accept the data.

Curiously, I have had several conversations with tech vendor marketers who doubt our Social Technographics data. Peter Burris and I debated at length last month with an industry marketing manager for a services company. He said that only half of the people he sold to even had a PC (he was selling to Government accounts). And this project client of mine also refuses to believe the data we have collected. Their issue is actually more about being credible in front of their own executives. They are afraid that, because their own executives do not use social media themselves, they’ll reject the concept that 43% of their potential audience are Creators, which is what we found out.

I did provide a clarification on our Social Technographics ladder methodology in response. A Creator population of 43% does not mean that nearly half are writing blogs (that number is actually 28%). Creators is a combination of 5 different questions: it is about publishing a blog post, your own Web pages, uploading a video, uploading audio/music or writing articles and posting them. Whoever does ONE of these things at least monthly is called a Creator. But the chances are still that this client will just shelve the data we have collected, plus the analysis and recommendations on a suitable social media strategy, in order to avoid having to argue against, or educate, their own management.

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The Data Digest: Uptake Of Facebook In Asia

Reineke Reitsma

In the past few weeks, there have been many conversations about Facebook's privacy changes (and breaches); for example, see this post by my colleague Augie Ray earlier this week. However, what I'm missing in these discussions is how Facebook compares with other social media players worldwide. Although Facebook is the largest social media platform in the Western world, different players lead in other regions. For example, Facebook is struggling to gain ground in Asia Pacific:

With 58% of online adults accessing it, Orkut is the leading social platform in metropolitan India, while 27% of Japanese online adults use mixi; and in South Korea, Cyworld is most popular, attracting 63% of South Korean Internet users. What I'd like to know: how do these networks handle their users’ privacy?

Do Latin Americans Want To Interact With Companies Online?

Roxana Strohmenger

Hola! Or as they say in Brazil — Olá! I am a new face on this blog, so let me introduce myself. My name is Roxana Strohmenger and I am on the Technographics Operations and Analytics Team, where I work with our clients, analysts, and vendors to make sure that our surveys — both syndicated and custom — utilize sound research methodologies and analytic tools. One of my newer responsibilities, though, is driving the content for our Latin American Technographics® research to help companies understand how technology and the Internet are changing the way Latin Americans go about their daily lives.

I am currently preparing for an exciting opportunity to give a presentation at ESOMAR’s Latin American 2010 conference next week, and I wanted to share with you some interesting findings regarding how Latin Americans want to connect with “others” on the Internet. I emphasize “others” because it is not friends and family that I am referring to but, in fact, companies. Yes, Latin Americans are extremely community-oriented and want to feel connected to their friends and families. And the Internet has become an exciting vehicle for them to stay connected. But, does this desire to be connected also extend to companies?

Surprisingly, the answer is yes. In fact our research shows that more than 75% of metropolitan online Brazilians and Mexicans expect companies to have a presence using social media tools like blogs, discussion forums, and social networking sites. To put this in perspective, we see that only 47% of US online adults have the same attitude. We’ve also found that among online Latin Americans who have this expectation:

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Intercontinental Hotels: A Case Study In Customer-Centric Marketing

Shar VanBoskirk

I just attended Unica’s annual Marketing Innovation Summit (MIS) this year in Orlando.  I sat in on a few terrific conversations about making multi-channel marketing a reality.  Here is the first: An overview of Intercontinental Hotel Group’s (IHG’s) use of data-driven marketing to improve communications with existing customers and prospects.

Lincoln Barrett, vice president for guest marketing and alliances, shared that, for IHG, building a customer-centric marketing strategy hinged on three different, but overlapping, initiatives:

  1. Invest in technology
  2. Expand into new frontiers
  3. Build a centralized customer organization

Each of these initiatives is still a work in progress, but excellent progress has already been made in each one. 

Invest In Technology

Step one here was to build a new data warehouse and real-time data mart that would allow IHG to match the data it was gathering through proprietary and third-party sources to existing customer information.  This step also made it possible to gain immediate access to data for analysis or campaign building purposes – a significant upgrade to IHG's previous functionality, which updated records in batches and only made data available some 30 days after a customer incident (like a hotel stay).

The next step was to expand outbound campaigns beyond email.  Technology upgrades (using Unica) automated internal campaign processes, created localization capabilities (for franchisees to create programs customized to their locale and customer relationships), and integrated call center data and activities with outbound campaign management.  As part of this step, IHG also streamlined its formerly multi-agency model into a single global agency.

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Mobile Consumers Create Multichannel Value

Julie Ask

Multichannel customers have traditionally been more profitable for consumer product, service, and media companies. Consumers who shop both online and in-store spend more.

Multichannel media consumers have higher levels of engagement than those present in only one channel. The more one watches TV, listens to the radio, spends time online, etc., the more advertising they consume.

Mobile adds a new dimension, a new medium, and a new tool to allow brands to engage with their consumers. Mobile is an even more contextual medium than TV or online. Mobile phones are personal. Mobile phones tie into an environment. Certainly, location is one aspect, but “where” is more than location. “Where” can mean the living room at home, in the car, or in a store.

Forrester recently completed a case study on Yahoo! Fantasy Football. Fantasy football presents a unique opportunity, given that the majority of NFL games are played on Sunday. Not everyone can plunk down on the couch in front of the TV on Sunday to track their players. Moreover, most people don’t have the ability to follow multiple games at one time – at least in the level of detail required to follow all of their players on all of their teams. Historically (pre-Internet), fantasy football players had to wait until Monday or even Tuesday to get player stats and begin to compile their scores. The Internet offered players the ability to do this in real time. Mobile offers players the opportunity to follow their teams, players, and scores in real time anywhere. Mobile offers immediacy. Mobile frees participants to go out in the yard to play with the kids or run errands without losing track of their games, scores, and players.

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