Can Marketers And IT Work Together To Master The Flow Of Your Customer Data?

David Truog

Marketers, how are you getting along with IT these days? It matters more than it used to. The job your company expects you to do is more and more entwined with technology. And so are the people in your target market.

Our research at Forrester shows almost half of US adults say technology is important to them.  And the ecosystem of suppliers of marketing-centric technologies and services is ballooning.  So whatever your aim as a marketer — whether it’s listening to the market, engaging with potential customers, or measuring the results of those efforts — you can’t do your job without these many technologies of new channels, new services, and new products.

This technology entwinement is especially tight when your company tackles the challenge of mastering the flow of customer data throughout the organization, from inputs across customer touchpoints, to the many ways you subsequently engage those customers. The struggle is not only in how to do this but also in how to do it sustainably: How to remember what data’s been collected, how it’s been used, what the outcomes have been, and on and on.

Where it gets messy is that marketers and IT often sing from different hymnals when it comes to making the most of all the relevant technologies. You’re eager to get to market with exciting new tools for engaging with potential customers, and you’re willing to experiment. But your IT colleagues often seem to be focused above all on cutting costs and avoiding risk — goals that rarely mesh well with what you’re trying to get done as a marketer. Not surprisingly, one marketing exec that Forrester interviewed recently called IT the “Department of No.”

Whereas in the past it may have been possible (even expected!) for marketing and IT to work at arm’s length, it’s not an option anymore.

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How I'm Using Google+ (Hint: It's About Relevance)

Melissa Parrish

If you were to glance at my Google+ profile, you’d probably think I’m practically inactive. But what you’re seeing is the public view of a very targeted set of actions, based on relevance.

I like to have different kinds of conversations with different people, so when I share content it’s with circles that designate not only relationship but topics too, and Google+ makes it really easy for me to be highly relevant in this way. Take, for example, politics. I like to talk about it, but I’m rarely interested in fighting, so when I share a politically focused news article, it’s not enough to be in my Friends circle. To see it, you have to be in my Friends-Politics circle, where I’ve included people who I know I’ll have an interesting conversation with that won’t result in insults and multiple exclamation points. 

There is one thing missing if relevance is an aim of the platform. As of today, my relevance-based circles only apply to what I share with others. What would be especially helpful would be a way to limit the content I see from others in that circle to the topic I’ve assigned it. For example, I’m following Christian Oestlien, one of the Google+ product managers, specifically for updates about Google+. So while the YouTube music videos and Onion articles he posts are probably funny, I can’t say I’m particularly interested in seeing them from him. Now, if one of the people in my Friends-Hilarious circle posted them, that’s another story . . ..

So what are the implications for brands?

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Acquisio Supports Agencies With Paid Search Technology

Shar VanBoskirk

In January we published a spate of research around automation tools specific to the search marketing space. See "Automation Helps Marketers Scale Organic Search" and "The New Paid Search Automation Landscape."  Our audience for these reports is the enterprise marketer.  So we represented here tools that sell directly to marketers. But, of course, there are vendors who service marketers indirectly -- by selling agency-enabling technologies instead.

One such vendor, Canadian-based Acquisio sent me some case studies recently about the efficiencies it brings agencies. Like the vendors we featured in our report (e.g., Adobe Search Center, Marin Software, Kenshoo, Efficient Frontier), Acquisio provides bid optimization, campaign management, and reporting.  But Acquisio's sweet spot is providing these services for agencies that might manage high volumes of keyword groups across several search engines for multiple clients. One agency grew its client base by 50% without adding any new headcount by using Acquisio to support campaign workflow, bids, and reporting.

The takeaway here for agency readers is that there are considerable firms outside of the set we profiled in our published research that might provide particular value for you.

Mobile Location Becomes Invisible

Thomas Husson

Maps and navigation are not yet mainstream, but they are more useful as product features anyway. This means that location is no longer a service like maps or navigation but is increasingly an enabler of new product experiences.

  • Location and maps are increasingly becoming features of new mobile products and services.
  • Location will happen automatically, behind the scenes. Adjustments will be invisible from a user perspective (think about the automatic weather update on your home screen widget).
  • Relevancy of local data will improve quickly. The era of basic point of interest (POI) information is over. Enriching addresses with more accurate information on opening hours, real-time data (traffic information, promotions, etc.), product/brand data, dynamic data (consumer reviews, inventory information) will deliver greater consumer benefits.
  • New algorithms will bridge the physical and digital worlds. Coupling more accurate local data with user context and other sources of information will foster the development of crowdsourcing and predictive analysis (e.g., predicting traffic congestion or air quality monitoring). Moving forward, these new algorithms will have far-reaching consequences well beyond mobile.
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The Future Of Mobile Is User Context

Thomas Husson

I have had the opportunity to contribute to a brand-new piece of research led by my colleague Julie A. Ask, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester.

We both believe mobile has the potential to be even bigger and more disruptive than the Internet.

That’s a bold statement! Today, few of the numerous professionals we interviewed are developing digital strategies that leverage context and make the most of the phenomenal technology packed inside mobile devices. Even fewer are anticipating the opportunities that will emerge tomorrow, with technology innovation driving capabilities around the user’s context.

Indeed, the fancy features, such as GPS and NFC, embedded in mobile phones will become common, while new sensors like barometers will reveal more about the user’s environment. The phones will also act as modems, relaying or interpreting information from other machines or from attachments with sensors. In a few years, mobile will be divorced from the PC. While a mobile device may have the ability to act like a PC, it has the potential to do much, much more. Product strategists must step into the leadership role, driving the development of user-context-based products. Increasingly, voice and motion will control devices and applications. There will be an entirely new generation of products and services delivered on mobile platforms that will not originate online.

At the end of the day, who knows you best? Your mobile phone! Why?

Because it will become the device you use to interact with the world around you — your hotel room, your shopping cart, your TV, your bank, your parking meter, your car, your running shoes, and many other aspects of your life. You won’t be able to keep anything secret from your mobile phone.

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How Are You Using Social Marketing Management Tools?

Melissa Parrish

Back in April I published a report called Take Control of Your Social Marketing, which looks at the emerging market of social marketing management tools.  In it, I identified three groups of these tools: the social publishing platforms, the social promotion builders, and the platforms that focus on both. 

In the two brief months since that report came out, the volume of questions I get about the topic has skyrocketed.  I can’t say this is surprising, as our own research is showing that many marketers are reaching a level of social marketing maturity at which tools like these can greatly increase the efficiency and success of their programs. There’s also been a lot of press coverage of the moves, changes, and announcements coming out of the vendors in this space, which has undoubtedly raised the profiles of these companies with marketers. 

  • In January, Vitrue, a company that falls into the “concentrating on both” category and which wasn’t able to participate in the original report, announced the closing of a $17 million series C financing round.
  • In February, Syncapse Corp.  made its own financing announcement -- an investment commitment of $25 million.
  • In March, SocialWare announced a partnership with LinkedIn that brings its regulatory compliance expertise and tools to the professionals’ social network.
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Join Forrester’s Tweet Jam About The Social Media Ecosystem: June 7th (Today!) At 2 pm Eastern

Melissa Parrish

It’s Tuesday -- and that means it’s time for another installment of #IMChat, a weekly tweet jam hosted by the interactive marketing team at Forrester. For today’s tweet jam, we’ve invited Shawn Shahani (@shawnshahani) from iCrossing to talk with us about challenges and possible solutions for companies with large and complex social presences.

Here are some of the questions we'll be discussing:

1)     In which social networks does your company currently maintain presences?
2)     How are you using these social media properties differently?
3)     Do you have multiple presences within a social network?
4)     How do you separate multiple presences? Geography, brands, job function?
5)     Who manages different social media presences and properties?

To participate, just follow the #IMChat hashtag at 2:00 p.m. If you’d like to learn more about the rules of engagement, visit this community discussion on The Forrester Community For Interactive Marketing Professionals. To read some past archives, visit the documents section of the same community.

Looking forward to hearing from you at 2 p.m.!

Marketers Should Cut Ad Budgets To Thrive In The Age Of The Customer

Shar VanBoskirk

At least once a week I get a client inquiry wondering what is "the next big thing in interactive marketing," seeking to identify what will out-tweet Twitter or out Goog Google.  Well, in his new report, Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer, my colleague Josh Bernoff articulates what is next for all businesses: A disruptive shift, where the power of customers means that firms must focus on the customer now more than any other strategic imperative.  In fact, the only source of competitive advantage is the one that can survive technology-fueled disruption — an obsession with understanding, delighting, connecting with, and serving customers. In this age, companies that thrive, like Best Buy, IBM, and Amazon, are those that tilt their budgets toward customer knowledge and relationships.

See Josh's post Welcome To The Age Of The Customer: Invest Accordingly for detail on how the Age of the Customer disrupts established competitive strategy.

The zinger in this report for interactive marketers is to: Prioritize word of mouth over mouthing off. Cut your ad budget by at least 10%, and spend the money on connections that have a multiplier effect like social, devices, and content. Ads are far more effective when customers are primed to believe them.

This means that interactive marketing of the future is really focused on interactivity -- not just on pushing out marketing messages through digital channels.  Three ways to get started creating more interactive marketing relationships:

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Mobile Is Bridging The Digital And Physical Worlds: It Is Time To Invent New Product And Services

Thomas Husson

Google’s product strategists just announced the launch of Google Wallet — an NFC-based mobile payment solution. As my colleague Charlie Golvin pointed out, this is another early salvo in what will be a long and hard-fought battle to change consumers’ payment behavior and, as a potential result, the makeup of the payments landscape.

We have covered this issue in more detail in a new Forrester report “Google Wallet Is Not About Mobile Payments.” Clients can access the report here.

Given its core search business and ad-based revenue model, why would the company make that investment? Because Google’s product strategists’ focus is not on the payment itself; it’s on all of the other elements that comprise a commerce experience and the data that characterizes those elements.

Indeed, appending real-world purchase information to its treasure trove of online behavioral data will vastly increase the value of customers’ profiles and increase the rates Google can charge its advertisers. It will be a way for Google to increase its local presence. NFC is too often equated simply with payments, but Google understands that NFC tags have broad application (working like Quick Response [QR] and other 2D barcodes do today). Google can help retailers use NFC tags for in-store promotions and check-ins, augmenting the understanding of customer behavior for ad targeting.

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Join Forrester's Tweet Jam About YOU: May 24th (Today!) At 2pm US Eastern

Melissa Parrish

As you may have seen, for the past two weeks we’ve run a tweet jam called #IMChat. Our first two topics, CORE and social influence, were well received but really about what Forrester folks think is interesting. So it’s time to turn the social media table around. What are you interested in? What do you want to talk about with your peers?

To participate, just follow the #IMChat hashtag at 2:00 p.m. If you’d like to learn more about the rules of engagement, visit this community discussion on The Forrester Community For Interactive Marketing Professionals. To read some past archives, visit the documents section of the same community.

Here are some of the questions we'll be discussing during today’s tweet jam:

1.       What digital marketing initiatives are most important to your success within your organization?

2.      What digital marketing initiative causes you the most headaches? Why?

3.      What resources do you currently use to find answers to your digital marketing questions?

4.      How do you utilize digital marketing peers in your day-to-day decision making? Are they external or internal resources?

5.       How do you utilize third-party vendors and agencies in your digital marketing programs?