Last week, I published a new report called "The Marketing Technology Meet-Up," which examines the consolidation trend of ad technologies and marketing technologies and helps marketers understand how to use it to their advantage. Why is this happening now, you ask? Three reasons: customer expectations for brand interactions are (still) increasing; vendors want a bigger piece of the marketer's technology budgets; and the prevalence of investments in contextual experiences.
We see the convergence happening in four areas:
Data, because the single view of the customer is as tantalizing as it is elusive.
Media, which half of marketers say they struggle to buy correctly.
Measurement, as various methodologies provide vastly different performance results.
Operations, where siloed marketers find more and more reasons to work together on coordinated programs.
Forrester predicts that US online retail sales will reach $89 billion during the 2014 holiday shopping season. Shoppers turn to the Web during the time-pressed period between November and December to avoid crowds, lines, and, in many cases, higher prices. This holiday season, eCommerce will experience a boom in the number of online buyers, as the holiday season is a strong opportunity for new customer acquisition, and online wallet share, as seasoned online consumers are growing more comfortable and reliant on the practice.
However, the expected growth is not as high as it could be due to a few unique constraints. A shorter than average holiday selling season, defined by the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, limits shoppers in the time during which they can take advantage of the deep discounts they expect. Further, the expected increase in volume of online sales will push the already constrained carrier networks. Forrester estimates that nearly seven times more eCommerce packages are shipped daily in the two weeks before Christmas than daily between the months of January and October. Last year, FedEx and more notably UPS had a high number of late deliveries due to unprecedented package volume and poor weather that caused buildups at critical times. With the expected 13% increase in eCommerce sales in 2014 for the months of November and December as compared to the same period in 2013, retailers and consumers must recognize the risk of shipping delays.
To bring a recent piece of research on content co-marketing to life, I created a mini-podcast (8 minutes) that includes excerpts from my interviews with marketing leaders. Give it a listen (if the Soundcloud player below doesn't show up or doesn't work for you, you can go straight to the Soundcloud page where it lives, here). Below I've included notes to the podcast, and a full transcript.
As the hub of our offline and online experiences, mobile interactions are a powerful catalyst for contextual marketing. The untapped opportunity in mobile for marketers will be to get an extremely granular understanding of their customers, then anticipate their expectations, and develop unique insights to power better marketing across all channels, not just mobile.
Few Marketers Make The Most Of The New Customer Data Gold Mine
Because smartphones are the hub of our offline and online experiences, they generate valuable insights for contextual data-driven marketing. However, the majority of marketers are not yet ready to exploit the convergence between mobile and big data.
Short Term: Engage Your Customers In Real Time In Their Mobile Moments
Harnessing and extracting actionable insights from this unprecedented wealth of customer data will enable marketers to serve customers in their mobile moments on a channel where they will increasingly spend the majority of their digital time.
Long Term: Power Better Marketing Initiatives Beyond The Mobile Channel
Mobile is more than simply another digital channel. Marketing leaders should combine mobile data with other sources of customer intelligence to get a deeper understanding of customers, anticipate their expectations, and act on these insights to improve all marketing initiatives.
Blogged in collaboration with Samantha Ngo, Senior Research Associate, serving Customer Insights professionals.
Even if you have a clear idea of where you want to end up, the route you take to customer loyalty isn't always straightforward. Outlining a strategic plan helps you understand what you need to do, but a roadmap identifies how, when and with what resources you should tackle each step. Forrester believes there are six components to designing an effective loyalty roadmap:
Time frame: The expected completion of tasks and delivery of results.
Desired outcomes: Key performance indicators (KPIs)that help you benchmark the performance of your advancing strategy based on your maturity.
Strategic themes: A summary of the objectives an organization needs to advance its strategy.
Key steps: The specific tasks — pulled straight from the strategic plan — which an organization must complete to graduate to the next maturity level.
Dependencies: The people, process, and technology required to execute the key steps. Changes to the current approach may require acquiring new team members, implementing formal processes, or buying loyalty technology.
Investment level: Where and when the allocated loyalty budget will be spent.
If the healthcare industry exhibited symptoms of dysfunction, the US government administered a wave of treatment in the form of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. October 2013 marked the opening of online insurance marketplaces, and set the stage for the act's requirement that most US residents have health insurance coverage. As a result, the industry has witnessed cessations and regenerations, and the pulse of consumer sentiment has fluctuated. Now, one year on, we’re due for a checkup.
At a macro level, US online consumers’ perspectives on healthcare reform today are largely consistent with those immediately preceding open enrollment under the federal law: Individuals continue to be skeptical of policy changes. However, at a micro level, subtle yet fundamental shifts in the consumer mindset signal a gradual evolution in perceptions of healthcare.
Our Technographics 360 research approach, which synthesizes Forrester’s ConsumerVoices Market Research Online Community insight and aggregated social listening data, shows that the conversation about healthcare has shifted from politics to experience -- and, in particular, to a focus on cost:
Marketers are in love with the latest mobile “shiny object” – and with technology acronyms – NFC, AR, LTE, BLE, RWD, QR. What’s more, hype questions abound: Will beacons replace NFC? Do you believe in HTML5 or should we develop a native app? Should we build an app for Apple Watch? But most of the time, these questions are irrelevant.
The reality is, marketers are increasingly using a variety of mobile tactics and technologies – but this use is rarely sophisticated and more often than not, does not match customer behaviors.
Sophistication of consumers’ use of smartphones is climbing — without consumers even noticing it. Mobile is simply part of our daily lives and, therefore, fundamentally changes customer expectations. With mobile traffic exploding, marketers are not only underserving their best customers by delivering a poor mobile experience, but risk losing their business altogether.
It’s time for marketers to start asking questions like how their core audience is using mobile, the value that mobile is adding throughout the customer lifecycle, the experience they want to transform, and the marketing objectives they have, to name a few. And only then, begin to align the right technologies.
I had the pleasure of conducting a Digital Maturity Assessment workshop with a colleague from Forrester Consulting for about 20 companies in Sydney recently. The majority of participants were from the Australian financial sector, with heavier representation from marketing departments than technology management. While the session was an abridged one intended to discuss, understand, and determine where the participants were on their digital business journey, it was productive and revealed that:
Participants knew what to do with digital business transformation, but struggled with how. Participants had started on the digital transformation journey, but needed to address cultural and organizational gaps to fully drive transformation. These issues include who owns the digital transformation agenda (does it sit with the CIO or CMO?), how to bridge the communication chasm between the CIO’s department and the lines of business, and how to measure results to drive transformation in a positive direction.
On October 14, I attended Big Data & Business Insights 2014 in Bangkok — the first public big data event in Thailand. I spoke about how to use big data to increase customer value in the age of the customer — a topic that seemed a bit distant from the audience’s daily reality. Most of them use traditional data warehouse and business intelligence tools and are new to big data solutions like Hadoop platforms, big data visualization, and predictive solutions. Here’s what I came away with:
Big data is still new to Thai businesses. Most big data projects in Thailand are still at the testing stages, and these trials are taking place in university labs rather than commercial environments. Dr. Putchong Uthayopas of the Department of Computer Engineering at Kasetsart University noted that big data projects in Thailand are now moving from pilot projects to actual usage.
Organizations need more details of real big data solutions. Thai businesses have held off investing in big data solutions because they felt uncertainty about the outcomes of big data projects. Attendees showed a lot of interest when I talked about big data usage in traditional industries, such as John Deere’s “Farm Forward” use case, which helped farmers make better decisions on what, when, and how to plant.