Should Marketers Check In?

Melissa Parrish

Should Marketers Check In To Location-Based Social Networks?

Location-based social networks (LBSNs) have been all over the media lately. Foursquare hit 2 million users. Twitter launched, revamped, and re-launched Places. CNNMoney partnered with Gowalla around its popular annual “100 Best Places to Live” list.  There’s even a social experiment -- PleaseRobMe -- that was started in response to the hype around this new social sharing technology.   So it’s no surprise that we’ve been getting a lot more questions from marketers lately about these services.  Marketers want to know who’s using these services, how often they’re using them, what they’re using them for, how marketers can get involved, and whether they should.

We dug into our research to try to answer these questions, and at a high level what we found is that just 1% of US online adults are using LBSNs weekly, while 4% of them have tried them at least once.  The sample size of this 1% of adults who use LBSNs regularly is small, so our findings on their behaviors are directional only, but our research shows that these users are typically young, male, well-educated, and influential.  In fact, LBSN users are 38% more likely than the average US online adult to say that friends and family ask their opinions before making a purchase decision. 

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The Future Of Application Stores

Thomas Husson

Apple reinvented the distribution of products and services on mobile phones, opening up direct-to-consumer opportunities for nontelecom companies. The numbers look impressive — more than 5 billion downloads and $1 billion paid to developers in the two years since the launch of the Apple App Store.

However, it also generated $429 million for Apple itself in two years. These revenues are not meaningful to Apple’s core revenues. Due to the limited number of paid apps and their significant concentration among games and navigation apps, it is likely that a significant number of independent developers have not recouped their investments via the current revenue-sharing model. The recent launch of iAd is a way for Apple to maintain the attractiveness of its platform, allowing third parties that provide free apps to develop sustainable business models.

But, despite all the hype around apps, only a minority of consumers download them monthly. A recent Forrester survey of more than 25,000 European adults shows that only 4% of all mobile users and 15% of smartphone users report downloading apps at least once per month. However, the fact that 21% of all European mobile users consider apps to be an important feature when choosing a new mobile handset highlights the large gap between today’s limited usage of apps and consumer awareness and interest.

The application store market is still nascent, but it is evolving quickly. However, in the longer run, few players will be able to address the key factors that will make them a success:

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The State Of Mobile Commerce In Europe

Thomas Husson

I booked my first hotel night via a mobile device a year ago.

I didn’t even think about the fact that it would be considered an “mCommerce” transaction, as I simply booked it directly on the hotel group’s Web site via the browser of my mobile phone. The site wasn’t actually optimized for mobile devices, but it was possible to enter my credit card details via a secure Web transaction. That’s not ideal, so I wonder how many mobile transactions that firm has missed simply because it doesn’t provide a compelling user experience.

 European mobile commerce is still at an early stage. Digital content is still the primary product purchased via mobile devices, but European consumers show growing interest in using their mobile phones for all sorts of shopping activities. I have recently contributed to a new report on the state of mobile commerce in Europe, written by my colleagues serving eBusiness Channel and Strategy Professionals. The report reveals that:

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Profiling Your Best Mobile Customers

Thomas Husson

Nine months ago, I wondered if there was a life beyond the iPhone and beyond mobile applications. Recent data gathered by Forrester makes me think that such a life exists!

Bear with me one second. I am not denying the fact that iPhone owners are the heaviest users of mobile services. I am just saying that there are plenty of opportunities in the mobile space on other smartphone platforms and with selected audiences. Mobile is not just about applications or mobile Web sites. Even good old SMS can be powerful depending on the objectives you have set and the audiences you want to interact with.

What’s certain is that iPhone owners can only be a subset of your customer base. Only 2% of European mobile users report having an iPhone as their main mobile phone. Does that mean that there are no opportunities to target more mainstream audiences? Not at all.

A much larger near- and medium-term opportunity exists within other groups — particularly among young consumers, business users, and consumers with flat-rate data plans — as well as, increasingly, with new, competing smartphone platforms. In fact, if you’re not targeting them, you’re neglecting the majority of your customer base — including many consumers who are mobile-savvy but don’t have an iPhone.

Let’s make this even clearer. 96% of European 16- to 24-year-olds do not own an iPhone. Should you avoid engaging with youth via mobile because of that? I don’t think so.

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The New Frontier By Orange -- Conquests 2015

Thomas Husson

Orange announced today its new industrial project, "conquests 2015." After NExT from Didier Lombard, the recently appointed CEO is now communicating Orange's five-year action plan.

One of the main objectives of the plan is the "conquest of employee pride" and the recruitment of 10,000 additional employees (including the 3,500 already announced for 2010) between 2010 and 2012. Following the unprecedented social crisis that took place in France, the company had no other choice than to offer a new management vision and to make sure employees can participate in the future of the company, involving them in such a way that they feel part of a long-term project.

Beyond this initial objective, a couple of other interesting conquests have been announced:

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A Guide To Community Management

Melissa Parrish

Just a few short months ago, I was an implementer of community and social media products and programs.  The success I had in those roles, and the knowledge I carry with me now, is thanks in part to the Forrester research reports that helped guide me along the way — so I’m especially excited to now be the author of one of those documents.

My first Forrester report is called the Community Management Checklist (Forrester clients can click the link to read it.)  It’s an overview of the process marketers need to follow and the important-but-sometimes-overlooked concepts and ideas to keep in mind as they work towards launching or engaging with their community.  

Through my research, I identified four phases of the process that can be handily summarized by the acronym PALM:

Planning: Laying the groundwork, setting objectives, exploring existing conversations, making necessary early decisions.

Alignment: Building internal consensus and processes.

Launch: Attracting and retaining members.

Maintenance: Cultivating relationships with your members and turning them into loyalists.

In the document, I’ve covered many issues that marketers have told me they’ve struggled with, so I hope you’ll find that it gives you actionable advice to help you during your own planning process. If it sparks other thoughts or questions, let me know in the comments here or on Twitter — a quick comment from you might turn into an important research topic for me.  

Help Us Benchmark "Mobile Maturity" — Take Part In Our Survey And Get A Free Executive Summary

Thomas Husson

Like my colleagues who serve Interactive Marketing professionals and are working on a study to benchmark social media maturity in organizations, we’re also conducting a new research project to benchmark how companies define and implement their mobile consumer approach.

Taking a step back, mobile phones have changed the way we live and communicate in the past 10 years. They’ve had a deep effect on society. At Forrester, we believe they’ll change the way companies do business in the next 10 years. Back in 2007, the iPhone created a market catalyst, not only in the way consumers use and perceive mobile phones but also in the way companies engage with their customers in the mobile environment. Since then, a growing number of companies have launched a mobile consumer presence and started to define a road map for their mobile products and services. Some of them are still testing and learning, while many companies are starting to integrate mobile in their corporate strategies, and others have already created dedicated mobile business units and plan to generate millions of €/$ per month in direct revenues. They follow different objectives — whether building brand loyalty, delivering added-value services in a multichannel experience, reducing costs, or acquiring new customers. 

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Back From Italy

Thomas Husson

I spent some time last week in Italy, where I regularly visit clients to discuss mobile opportunities.

I always try to spend a few hours visiting operators' shops and getting hold of some brochures. The ones below from Telecom Italia are very typical of a certain type of Italian ad...

Beyond this, however Italy is a very interesting market to study. It is wrongly perceived as leading in Europe because of its huge penetration rate — more than 140% — which doesn’t mean much, per se. Put simply, it links to the high ratio of prepay phones and to the multi-SIM phenomenon, in which Italian consumers take advantage of the most attractive tariffs. For example, handset subsidies are not common and were introduced by Tre (greenfield operator Hutchison Whampoa), the operator with the highest postpay market share.

However, Italian consumers are starting to demonstrate sophisticated mobile usage. An example: At the end of 2009, 15% of Italian online users accessed the mobile Internet on a weekly basis and more than 10% were interested in receiving contextualized mobile coupons. I see numerous examples of mobile innovation, and many companies (from media groups to banks) are starting to integrate mobile into their corporate strategies. I am, however, surprised by the lack of a cohesive and consistent approach. Few companies have a clear understanding of how their own customers use mobile services and what their attitudes toward mobile are. That's the first step in assessing mobile opportunities. For example, does it make sense to launch an Android application if you don't know how many of your customers own an Android device? Few companies have defined clear and measurable objectives or have a vision of how they want to integrate mobile as part of a multichannel and multimedia approach moving forward.

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The End Of "All-You-Can-Eat" Mobile Data Plans?

Thomas Husson

Following AT&T's decision in the US ten days ago (see my colleague Charles Golvin's take here), there's a hot debate as to whether European operators will follow suite and stop their unlimited mobile Internet pricing schemes.

O2 UK announced no later than last Friday that it will stop it and introduce various caps: from 500MB for the cheapest one (GBP25 with 100 minutes and unlimited texts) up to 1GB for the most expensive (GBP60 for unlimited voice/SMS and 1GB of mobile Internet).

According to the press release, 97% of O2 smartphone customers would not need to buy additional data allowances, as the lowest bundle (500MB) provides at least 2.5 times the average O2 customer’s current use. In short, just 3% of customers will have to pay extra.

Other UK operators as well as KPN in the Netherlands and Orange France have shared indications that they will follow suite and that this pricing scheme is outdated. Here are a couple of thoughts:

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Crowd Factory Launches New Social Campaign Product

Melissa Parrish

Crowd Factory announced today a new product for marketers: CrowdWorks Social Campaign -- which it describes as a way for marketers “to acquire new customers through simple social sharing and custom social marketing campaigns while easily tracking ROI.”

The key word there is simple.  What Social Campaign offers marketers is not complex end-to-end community/social/conversational/engagement marketing functionality and services.  It’s a curated set of light social applications (like sharing and ratings) -- which it refers to as social gestures -- that marketers can use to impact the business goals they’ve already established for their campaigns.

The interface is as simple as the feature set too, which may be a welcome change of pace for marketers who are used to requesting design and coding work from already tapped development resources.  Crowd Factory says it takes 10 minutes, and no technical skills, to customize and deploy a social gesture, and having seen the dashboard, I can believe it.  Of course, that 10-minute time-to-launch comes only after the platform has been approved by whatever internal departments need to sign off on technology platforms, but once that step is completed, the dashboard is in fact a platform that can be used over and over to customize and deploy new social gestures without additional help from tech resources.

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