We're all finally settling down from our blockbuster of a consumer forum in Chicago last week (check out http://blogs.forrester.com/consumerforum for summaries, thoughts, and highlights from the event) and processing some of the learnings that came out of our client conversations. I didn't end up listening in on very many of the main tent speakers as I was pretty booked with one-on-one sessions. These are 30 minute, in person meetings that forum attendees can book with the analysts of their choice to discuss business issues. I was definitely tired after my few days of back to back one-on-ones, but to be honest, I came back to the office pretty recharged. I've been so heads down on research of late, that it was really nice to engage with clients face to face. I really enjoyed sharing ideas and meeting the real people who are out there reading my research!
One topic that came up several times in one-on-ones with different clients is: the role of the service provider in the next era of marketing. We've all been talking about integrated marketing for years. And this year's forum theme pushed integrated marketing even further by looking at how to "Humanize the Digital Experience." This means the entire integrated customer experience.
On September 14, I posted a notice about a research study we had in the works on The Interactive Marketing Organization. Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey!
We've gotten about 150 responses and have actually closed the survey (just in case you have tried to take the survey recently and found the link inactive). I'm currently at work on the report this data will feed. But since that is still several weeks away, I wanted to provide you with a few previews of what we learned:
*Companies actually have a surprising tenure with interactive marketing: 79% have been using interactive marketing for more than 3 years; 52% for more than 5 *Interactive marketing teams are generally small (39% have IM teams with 1 to 5 people). However 18% report teams that are quite large (31 or more people) *Interactive marketers outsource less than I had expected with 59% outsourcing less than 25% of their work. *Younger IM organizations (those using IM for less than 5 years) are generally less strategic than more senior organizations. They have less staff, less budget, but better executive support than IM organizations who have been using interactive marketing for more than 5 years.
I’ve gotten a number of press calls since Yahoo announced it has missed its earnings on October 5 asking if I think this indicates a larger slow down of interactive marketing spending overall.My response to these qualms “No way, Jose.”Here is what I think is happening:
*Interactive marketing spending is definitely different today than it was in the boom times of Bubble One (circa 1999-2000).But this is a good thing.Today, more traditional marketers are including online advertising, email and search marketing in their marketing mix.This provides stability and legitimacy to interactive media which it did not have when it was supported solely by dot coms.
The theme for Forrester’s upcoming Consumer Forum is “Humanizing The Digital Experience.” What makes a digital experience more human? First, it must be useful. Second, it must be usable to the point that the technology fades into the background. Finally, the best digital experiences are desirable enough to stimulate action (e.g. buying a product, or telling a friend about the experience).
After years of clumsy and cold web sites, examples of desirable experiences are starting to pop up everywhere. Witness MySpace.com and NASCAR’s PitCommand (a mobile application in which fans can track in real-time the speed, RPM, throttle, position, and time of their favorite driver). These are great, but can every online experience be desirable? What about when a company is trying to sell you something?
I'm answering this question in a research piece scheduled for me right after I finish my Wave on search marketing agencies. And am currently in the process of surveying interactive marketers about what works well/not so well about how your teams are structured.
So here’s your chance to take part in Forrester’s ground-breaking research! We maintain an active panel of interactive marketers, but we’re always looking for fresh voices. If you’re an interactive marketer or know someone who might be interested in our work, you can access the link to our survey below:
Along with podcasts and RSS feeds, blogs are showing up on business marketers’ radar. Of the 210 B2B marketers who told us that they use these emerging tactics today, over 70% said they planned to boost their spending on social computing tactics during the next 12 months. But just because firms like Boeing, HP, NetApp, Sun, and Unica have entered the blogosphere, does that mean every marketing executive should as well? My answer today is a qualified “Perhaps.”
You already know that prior to joining Forrester, I worked in the information retrieval industry and will forevermore be fascinated and frustrated by search. B2B marketers face unique search challenges, not only to select the best keywords and improve on organic rankings, but also to direct buyers to the information they need to make decisions and move closer to a purchase.In recent research, we found business marketers don’t use microsites and landing pages to guide paid clickers to the relevant information. Of the 86 unique ads we reviewed, only about a quarter took buyers to pages custom-designed for a paid search campaign and neither dedicated pages nor general ones provided keyword-related content consistently. Why do B2B marketers struggle here and can technology help?
I'm right in the middle of evaluating vendors for Forrester's Wave on search marketing agencies and I'm finding (no surprise, really) that these providers offer very similar services. There are certainly some place of differentiation (like the amount of consumer research a vendor conducts to understand your target audience). But in terms of the basics (keyword selection, bid opimization), vendors look a lot alike.
So, as I wade through the details of each vendor, I'm hoping you all will weigh in on what selection criteria is most important to you when you are looking for a search partner. Does it matter if the vendor has its own bid management technology? Are you only interested if they have experience in your industry? Is SEO or paid search more important? Would you sacrifice customer service for in-depth conversion tracking? Let me know what the most important factors are to you. I'll be using your feedback to help me weight my evaluation criteria. Thanks!
Google and MySpace announced a eye-popping $900 million deal yesterday providing definitive proof of Google's diversification strategy (was there ever really any doubt?) and sending a new tremor down the spines of Microsoft and Yahoo!. But this deal is not just about Google bolstering its lead in the online search marketing race. It means:
Last week, I met with the (small) business solutions division of a large consumer technology/services provider to talk about gearing up their B2B marketing. We talked about whether the same tactics that work for their consumer audiences might also work with small business prospects (typically less than 100 employees.) TV and radio came up in the discussion because they were getting ready to launch local market tests.
So here’s the thing:
Few (about 20%) of the over 500 B2B marketers who we surveyed recently say they use TV and radio, compared with about 90% who use tradeshows and PR – real die-hard B2B tactics. However, those who can afford TV say it’s off the charts for building brand awareness.