Forrester Groundswell Awards Update

Nate Elliott

This week, our team finished judging the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards and notified the winners. If your entry was selected as a winner in any of our 11 B2C, B2B, or B2E categories, you've heard from us by now.

If not, I want to still thank you for entering this year's awards. We know the time and effort that companies put into their entries -- and we want you to know that gave every submission full consideration. We received more than 140 entries this year -- including many of excellent quality -- and it was often hard to choose the best in each category. You made the judges' job difficult, and for that we applaud you.

Want to know who won this year's awards? Stay tuned: We'll be announcing the awards both on this blog and at our 2013 Forrester eBusiness Forum on November 5.

Great Content Is Not Enough

Ryan Skinner

There’s a serious, but neglected, problem at the heart of content marketing.

Marketers and agencies have invested large sums to create quality content, but – in many cases – it’s not getting discovered. Audiences are neither finding nor sharing it. It’s not going viral. It’s not going anywhere. One CEO at a company that helps with distribution told me how he finds new clients: He looks for brands on YouTube with great videos but miserable viewing numbers. “Not hard at all,” he said.

How did visibility become such a problem?

Agencies, bloggers, and search experts counsel marketers to publish truly great content, regularly, to win search rankings and social shares and thus draw traffic. For many marketers, however, that organic discovery isn’t happening as quickly or reliably as they need.

Outgoing Content Marketer of the Year Joe Chernov (VP of marketing at Kinvey, and previously VP – content marketing at Eloqua) told me:

Marketers always ask me how to make more or better content, and it’s almost always the wrong question. The right question is: “How do I get my content in front of the right people?”

That will include paid placement and amplification, but it turns out this kind of promotion is only one part of a multiphase approach.

I just published a report on distribution of branded content. A few remarkable findings:

  • Brands can actually step down content production and step up distribution to get better results.
  • An ecosystem of vendors have cropped up to help marketers drive distribution of branded content.
  • The most effective promotions often come from doubling-down on past successes.
Read more

The Social Technographics Score helps marketers create better social strategies

Nate Elliott

We firmly believe that the first step in building a successful social program is to understand your audience’s social behaviors and preferences.

Since 2007, Forrester’s Social Technographics® ladder has helped marketers understand how social their audiences are, and in which social behaviors those audiences engage. But social media adoption has matured, and today the vast majority of online users engage with social tools. For marketers, the question is no longer whether their customers use social media, but rather how best to use social media to interact with those customers.

So we decided it was time to develop a new framework to help marketers analyze people’s evolving social behaviors and benefit from this evolution. Today, Forrester is introducing a new model — called the Social Technographics Score — that:

  • Focuses on commercial social behaviors. Many surveys reveal the social behaviors in which audiences engage but make no distinction between peoples’ social interactions with friends and their social interactions with companies. In contrast, our new Social Technographics Score is based on how audiences interact with and talk about companies, brands, and products.
  • Helps marketers choose among social strategies. Most models for evaluating audiences’ social usage tell marketers about their customers’ behaviors but don’t tell marketers what to do in response to those behaviors. In contrast, our new Social Technographics Score measures where in the customer life cycle audiences are most likely to use social tools.
Read more

Content Marketing Fortnight II: Advertising is...unclear

Ryan Skinner

Here’s your fortnightly round-up of the best of the best stuff online for marketers who think about content. (For more information about what the Content Marketing Fortnight is, see my intro from the first one. And, if you want to get this curated newsletter in your inbox every other week, send me a mail.)

Advertising is _______.
The head of the IAB comes late to the party that is advertising’s identity crisis. In all truth, I think he’s done a good job of summarizing some tectonic shifts:

Digital technologies have put the very definition of advertising and marketing up for grabs. Now, when a marketer asks for a new campaign, the response from the team is literally a question mark.

At the forefront of those shifts: An idea that advertising should be more useful and valuable. Content marketing winds are blowing down Madison Avenue.

How do VCs value content marketing
An interesting article in VentureBeat shares compelling analysis of VC investment in the content marketing space. Six investment buckets emerge. It’s worth noting that the top four relate specifically to helping brands get broader distribution for their branded content messages. (NB! I have a report coming out next week about distribution of branded content).

Branding e-singles

Read more

Database of Affinity: The Race Is On

Nate Elliott

Earlier this year, we introduced the Database of Affinity: a catalogue of people's tastes and preferences, collected by observing their social behaviors, that could be the Holy Grail for more-accurate brand advertising. And since then two of the companies we featured in our research -- Facebook and Google -- have been working hard to realize this vision:

  • In June, Google introduced Affinity Segments -- a tool that allows marketers to target audiences based on the products and categories for which they've expressed preferences. We think Google has room to add more and broader affinity data to these segments, and to do richer analysis on that data. But Affinity Segments blends multiple signals into a single targeting tool -- which makes this an important step forward from the simplistic affinity targeting most social sites now offer.
  • More recently, Facebook built a team to analyze its affinity data. MIT Technology Review reports that Facebook has assigned eight people to its 'AI' team. Their goal? To address one of the key shortcomings we'd identified in Facebook's business: its inability to bring meaning to its data. It's always been clear that Facebook has one of the largest collections of affinity data online; we hope this move will help the company better leverage that data on behalf of marketers.
Read more

"Who paid for this content?!"

Ryan Skinner

Imagine this scenario:

Only days before the New Hampshire primaries, an article appears on the Des Moines Times-Courier website: “Candidate Chris Christie Hiding Past As Exotic Dancer,” and quickly goes viral, appearing in millions of Twitter streams, Facebook feeds, and email inboxes. Most people see the headline and shake their heads – “Politicians!” As a result, Christie loses the New Hampshire primary, even though the New York Times had revealed that the Des Moines article was a piece of native advertising paid for by a competitor. Christie’s campaign crumbles – from presidential favorite to footnote.

This is the kind of native advertising horror story that’s got old-school journalists hiding under their beds. They ask: “What happens when people don’t know who paid for the content?”

The example, and any horror story like it, is hyperbolic. It’s not going to happen. (And if politicians wanted to tar an opponent, there are far slicker ways to do it.)

In fact, native advertising’s been going on for decades. The original soap operas were native advertising. So are those boring “Invest in Tackyvania” inserts in The Economist.

The journalists and editors are worried about the skyrocketing popularity of native advertising online for a couple of reasons:

1)    Online, it’s often not clear what’s a native ad and what isn’t.
2)    They worry about how it reflects on their editorial content (and authority).

An Advertiser Paid For This Content

Read more

Mini content curation masterclass: A fortnight in content marketing

Ryan Skinner

I read a disconcerting amount of content about content; you wouldn’t expect less from Forrester’s content marketing analyst. So I thought: Why not do something with it? I’m going to curate and occasionally publish a great little list of content links.

As introduction, here's my formula for curation.

Tight focus on audience: This is for marketing leaders who work with content in one way or other. If you don’t work in marketing or think about content, this will be of less value. My goal’s to give people who think about or work with content a list of recent articles on the topic, out of which at least a couple will be solid gold. (N.B.! I explicitly avoid the “16 golden tips for [this, that or the other]” types of linkbait posts. Duh.)

Process: I rock Feedly with a pile of RSS feeds from content sites, a private Twitter list of content influencers, a stack of email newsletters, and a host of other sources pretty much every day. I make a list of the best stuff as I browse. After a couple of weeks, I give each piece on the list one to four stars. Four stars and some three stars make the cut. Then I give each a succinct treatment and a comment to frame it. Serve cold!

Without further ado, here’s the best news, ideas, and opinions on content in the last fortnight! (P.S. If you want me to send the Content Marketing Fortnight to you next time, email me).

Retail + content = hard

Read more

Three Ways To Advance Your Social Marketing Initiatives

Kim Celestre

The month of September marks many new beginnings: the first day of school, the first month of fall, the start of football and hockey seasons, the beginning of grape harvest season (a significant event for a California wine lover like myself!), the new iPhone 5S . . . the list goes on. And when there are new beginnings, there are new learnings. This is why September is one of my favorite months -- for me, September symbolizes advancement and progress.

For marketing leaders, there is no better time than now to start learning about how to advance your social marketing initiatives. Most likely, you have been using social media tactics for some time now. And if you're like many marketers, you may find that you are stuck in a social marketing rut. Perhaps you find yourself unable to optimize your existing strategies or unable to get the results you expect from your social marketing programs. Or perhaps you have hit some major road blocks that are hindering your progress:

 

 

The good news: my colleagues and I have been working on some exciting new research this quarter that will help you overcome these challenges and advance your social marketing initiatives. This research will be published in our Social Marketing Playbook and will help you to do these three things: 

Read more

How are you thinking about video content these days?

Jim Nail

As I get deeper into the changes impacting television and online video, their convergence, and the possibility of entirely new forms of video entertainment content, I'm thinking about content in the following categories:

  • Long-form professional video -- i.e., produced originally to be broadcast on TV
  • Professional clips -- news, sports highlights, scenes from programs
  • Short-form professional -- i.e., Maker Studios, et al, producing videos shorter than 30 minutes, specifically for Internet distribution
  • Brand videos -- i.e., content marketing done in video form, such as Home Depot's do-it-yourself instructional videos
  • Consumer-generated videos

Then there is the medium by which they are distributed:

  • Linear, i.e., at broadcast time
  • DVR, where the consumer takes control
  • VOD through the cable box
  • Online streaming, from either the cable/satellite provider, the programmer, or a streaming service like Hulu Plus

And, of course, there are the devices on which the content can be viewed:

  • Traditional TV
  • Computer/laptop
  • Tablet
  • Smartphone
Read more

Analytics - The Key To Measure Your Mobile Performance And Unlock The App Economy

Thomas Husson

The app economy is blurring the lines and opening up new opportunities, with a lot of new entrants in the mobile space, be it with mobile CRM and analytics, store analytics, dedicated gaming analytics, etc. A bunch of players have raised more than $250+ million among the likes of Flurry, Urban Airship, Crittercism, Kontagent, Trademob, Apsalar, App Annie, and Localytics, to name a few. Expect a lot of innovation and acquisitions in that space once mobile is more naturally integrated into digital marketing strategies.

On average, mobile now represents more than 20% of overall traffic to websites. For some companies, including many in media, more than half of all visits come via mobile devices. In some countries, such as India, mobile has surpassed PC traffic. Marketers are integrating mobile as part of their marketing mix, but too many have not defined the metrics they’ll use to measure the success of their mobile initiatives. Many lack the tools they need to deeply analyze traffic and behaviors to optimize their performance.

Thirty-seven percent of marketers we surveyed do not have defined mobile objectives. For those who do, goals are not necessarily clearly defined, prioritized, and quantified. Half of marketers surveyed have neither defined key performance indicators nor implemented a mobile analytics solution! Most marketers consider mobile as a loyalty channel: a way to improve customer engagement and increase satisfaction. Marketers must define precisely what they expect their customers to do on their mobile websites or mobile apps, and what actions they would like customers to take, before tracking progress.

Read more