Thoughts From My Pilgrimage To Mobile's Mecca

Thomas Husson

Once again, I've just spent a couple of days in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress (MWC). Year after year, the show is opening up to non-telecom players and going beyond mobile. Think about the rise of personal cloud-based services delivering consumer experiences across devices, Sony's marketing efforts to promote seamless entertainment across different screens, or the emergence of the "phablets" acronym (devices in between a phone and a tablet, such as Asus Padfone or LG Vu).  

While it is difficult to summarize all the news and announcements, here are some thoughts on MWC 2012:

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2012 Mobile Trends And What They Mean For Product Strategists

Thomas Husson

When revisiting our 2011 mobile trends, Julie Ask and I concluded that many, if not all, of them were still evolving and relevant. We have placed the main new trends for 2012 into four categories: business, ecosystem, consumer expectations, and technology.

Mobile Is A Key Business Strategy Enabler

Product strategists must work with other roles in the organization to:

  • Develop a scalable approach to delivering mobile services. Organizations will need a strategic approach to building and spreading institutional knowledge as well as governance for the development of mobile services.
  • Craft a mobile strategy that extends beyond phones. The emergence of tablets in particular will require a different approach than smartphones.
  • Differentiate on the delivery rather than the content of mobile services. In 2012, “how” mobile services are delivered will differentiate them — not what they offer.
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Principles For Mobile Marketing Success

Melissa Parrish

Most marketers know that there are opportunities for them to engage consumers on mobile devices: consumers are increasingly buying smartphones, using them more frequently, and using them as a supplemental resource for content and communication. So it’s great to see that marketer spend in mobile is increasing. However, we find that most efforts still treat mobile as a translation of PC-based campaigns, or are otherwise experimental. And while it’s smart to start with those kinds of programs, we think it’s important that marketers begin to evolve their mobile marketing strategies so their programs can be as sophisticated as their customers.  

In our latest report, we’ve identified a few steps you can take to move your mobile marketing strategy forward:

1)    Know what phase of mobile marketing evolution you are in.To get where you’re going, you first have to know where you are. We’ve has outlined five phases of mobile marketing evolution and the accompanying approach, resources, goals, and tactics for each so that you can see which phase you are in today: Foundation, Experimentation, Device Strategy, Channel Strategy, and Comprehensive Strategy.

2)    Use the three pillars of mobile strategy to guide your marketing programs in each phase:

a.     Immediacy: Provide content that is timely and actionable in the moment.

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Just Published: A Forrester Wave™ For Mobile Marketing Strategy

Melissa Parrish

We’ve all seen the headlines:  2010 2011 2012 is the year of mobile!  Mobile marketing spend will outpace email search display!  Jump on the bandwagon now or else!  

. . . And while I’m bullish about mobile marketing — I better be, since it’s my primary coverage area these days — the importance of having a sound strategy and the right partners to execute often gets lost in all that hype. That’s why I’m extremely proud to have just published The Forrester Wave™: US Digital Agencies — Mobile Marketing Strategy And Execution, to help marketers identify the right agency partners to develop and build smart mobile marketing strategies that deliver real business results.

You’ll notice from the (rather long) title that I focused specifically on US-based digital agencies. Admittedly, this is a narrow view of a very wide array of service providers that help marketers create mobile programs.  However, to deliver the kind of value people expect from Forrester’s trusted Wave methodology, it was necessary to zero in on just one part of the market to ensure a level field for all players.  

Even with this focus, we screened scores of agencies for this study and ultimately ended up with nine agencies to evaluate:  AKQA, iCrossing, Ogilvy, Possible Worldwide, Razorfish, Rosetta, SapientNitro, TribalDDB, and VML. These top performing agencies were included in our evaluation because they all:

• Offer comprehensive mobile marketing services.
• Met – and mostly exceeded — a minimum revenue requirement from mobile marketing offerings.

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Google Search Gets Social- What it Could Mean for Marketers

Melissa Parrish

I don’t know about you, but my head is spinning from all of the articles and editorials about Google’s incorporation of Google+ content and other personalized search results.  While there’s lots of conversation about whether the changes are good or bad for Google and the future of search, whether Google is opening themselves up to more anti-trust investigation, and whether Google was simply too late to the social media game to make a difference,  I’m going to leave those arguments to others.   I’m more interested in the potential opportunities and challenges for marketers that this integration of search and social presents.

Opportunities

  • It may give marketers an additional metric to track for social media.  Google will be surfacing your brand’s Google+ social content directly into personalized results, for consumers who’ve added you to their circles.  These search results may also include content that a consumer’s friends posted about you.  That means qualified clicks on your social content—and that means possibly tracking how much search traffic you generate to your own sites through social marketing. 
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Twitter: Is Anybody Doing It "Right"?

Melissa Parrish

Twitter isn’t the largest social network, but its users are very active and tend to be influential. As a result, more and more marketers are looking for ways to leverage the service. The challenge of course is that Twitter is distinctively different than other digital channels, so marketers still struggle to find the “right” way to engage.

In our just-published report about Twitter, we found that:

·  Many successful uses of Twitter go beyond the marketing department. Alone, that’s probably not all that surprising. What’s particularly interesting though is that even when Twitter is used in non-marketing departments — like customer service, PR or even sales  — interactive marketers are participating in the development of the channel to ensure that disparate accounts are strategically aligned.

·  Twitter provides both an overwhelming amount of data and is dominated by a minority of influential users. This can be confusing to marketers because it often means that huge amounts of conversation are created by people who all seem to require a response. Handling that volume and depth of conversation can be particularly daunting. More daunting:  Marketers need to be even more interesting and more relevant than the average influential user if they want to cut through the cluttered streams and engage their consumers.

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Product Strategists Should See NFC As Much More Than Contactless Payments

Thomas Husson

A year ago, Forrester stated that 2011 would — finally — be the year that Near Field Communications (NFC) began to matter. We predicted that dozens of millions of NFC devices would ship and that the market would start moving away from being niche, although it would still be years away from becoming mainstream. Now that 2011 is coming to an end and it is once again the time for predictions, let’s look back at NFC’s year before we publish our report on mobile trends in 2012 at the start of next year.

I recently got confirmation from trusted sources that 35 million to 40 million would be a good estimate for worldwide NFC mobile phone shipments. 2011 was a game-changing year in that handset makers eventually started to embed the technology in their product portfolio.

Despite the hype about Google Wallet, the reality is that few consumers can use it. It will take a few more years before we reach a critical mass of not just NFC device owners but also users of services enabled by NFC technology. Why? Few services are available now; the out-of-the-box experience is still poor; consumer education is missing; and there’s only limited availability of NFC readers in the retail environment.

Product strategists should stop focusing on NFC as just a contactless payment technology but should instead anticipate new uses for the technology that enable consumers to interact with the environment around them.

Most consumers using an NFC device in 2012 will more likely use it for device-pairing or data-sharing purposes than for payments. Why? Because it can work in a closed loop without the need for NFC infrastructure. Device manufacturers will offer NFC-based multimedia content sharing services, such as the recent Blackberry Tag.

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Twitter Launches Brand Pages: What It Means For You

Melissa Parrish

Yesterday, Twitter announced the launch of its highly anticipated brand pages. The move is being lauded as the next logical step for the social network in attempting to bring its offerings in line with competitive services for companies -- like the already-launched Google+ brand pages and the perennial favorite Facebook pages. But how exactly will the changes help brands or change the way they interact? 

First, the the pages offer marketers more branding opportunities. A large banner on the top of the page will let you show off your logo or other creative without worry that it'll get lost behind the Twitter stream like your custom background images may on your current pages.  

Second, you'll be able to make a tweet sticky by pinning it to the top of your stream -- with media like photos or videos -- for as long as you choose. 

These features sound -- and are -- good news to marketers who've wanted better tools to create a destination for their audiences on Twitter. But remember, the majority of interaction with your followers on Twitter happens in the stream, not on your brand page. So while these new tools will let you position your Twitter presence better to capture new followers, you still have to have a clear strategy for engaging your followers once you've got them . . .

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Facebook, Gowalla, And Marketing On Location-Based Social Networks

Melissa Parrish

As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, yesterday Facebook announced its acquisition of Gowalla. The move opens up interesting possibilities for location-based and location-aware social apps, some of which I explored in my most recent, serendipitously timed report on location-based social networks (LBSNs).

On one hand, the acquisition means that the herd of strictly LBSNs is continuing to thin, which means the remaining apps have less competition, so marketers who are looking to play on those platforms should have fewer options with larger audiences to choose from. On the other hand, the move appears to be further integrating location into a user’s total Facebook experience — at once broadening the appeal of location-based social activity by baking location into everything a user does on Facebook and thereby potentially subverting the need for strictly LBSNs by integrating the user value into a larger social experience.   

And so the big question: should marketers get involved with LBSNs and other geolocation applications?

The bottom line is that geosocial apps are still niche, but they’re growing in usage. Since we published our previous report in July 2010, foursquare has grown from 2 million users to 15 million. Twitter — and now even more aggressively, Facebook — has continued to fuse their social offerings with location information; even technology companies like Apple are chiming in with the launch of the “Find My Friends” app. However, even though the user-base numbers have grown quickly, we still find that few consumers are checking in: 6% have ever, with only 2% doing so at least weekly.

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Scan This Post: What Marketers Need To Know About 2D Bar Codes

Melissa Parrish

2D bar codes are one of the latest “shiny objects” in mobile marketing. And it’s no surprise — with mobile marketing spend increasing and smartphone adoption on the rise, you want to know if it’s time to invest in this mobile marketing tactic. The result?  More and more clients have come to me and said, "I'm working on my QR Code strategy, and . . ."

But in order to answer the questions that come after that statement, I wanted to explore and explain the actual benefits of this tactic (potentially huge), and the actual adoption today (still pretty low).  Here are some of the high-level findings from my research to help you de-code bar codes:

·         2D bar codes have a lot of marketing potential. They can be placed anywhere — allowing you to reach your audience at all stages of the consumer life cycle with targeted information. And they do it efficiently: they connect people with additional content immediately through a scan, require little consumer effort, and can leverage  context to provide more targeted and useful information in the moment.

·         But, consumers aren’t scanning away today. While marketers and companies are starting to dive-in, most consumers aren’t — yet. Adoption increased from 1% last year to 5% this year, and among smartphone owners, penetration is at about 15%. Why isn’t it higher? Because of basic unfamiliarity of what these codes even do, the required step of downloading a 2D bar code reader, and most importantly for marketers to note: disappointing experiences and content.

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