Our Forrester Wave on Social Relationship Platforms, and the case for social automation

Nate Elliott

Today we released an update to our Forrester Wave on social relationship platforms. Forrester defines social relationship platforms as technologies that help marketers publish organic posts to social networks as well as monitor and respond to customer posts on social networks.

We identified the 11 most significant vendors in the category — Adobe, Expion, Falcon Social, Hootsuite, Oracle, Percolate, Salesforce, Shoutlet, Spredfast, Sprinklr, and Sprout Social— and researched them, analyzed them, and scored them on 41 criteria. Clients can find the full report, including some very detailed product reviews and scores, here.

One of the things we looked for in our evaluation was vendors’ ability to automate key SRP functions. We know — automation remains a dirty word in social media. No brand wants to repeat the automation-driven mistakes of Coca-Cola or Bank of America. But marketers say one of their top social challenges is hiring and training enough qualified staff. In this environment, the greatest value that social relationship platforms can offer their clients is lightening their workload.

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European Marketers Hone Their Programmatic Buying Skills To Prepare For Growth

Luca Paderni

 

This is a guest post by Samantha Merlivat, a researcher serving B2C Marketing professionals.

Programmatic advertising is revolutionizing the way online display is traded. It is set for high growth in 2015 across all of Europe and is a top item on marketers’ list of tech to investigate this year. After an initial take-up limited to direct-response, brand marketers are showing growing interest in programmatic buying and dedicating larger budgets to programmatic display campaigns. They embrace the ability to leverage first party data to reach customers online and understand that therein lays their competitive advantage in the world of online display.

At the same time, European publishers – eager to meet brand marketers’ demand for more targeted, automated deals – are increasing the amount of premium inventory available through exchanges, primarily through private marketplaces. “In Europe, we see inventory and programmatic deals that are becoming more premium – even more so than in the US at moment” notes Jerome Underhill, vice president of services and operations EMEA at AppNexus.  These trends will fuel the growth of online media advertising spend, which will continue to expand at an annual rate of 12% in Western Europe until 2019.

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Mobile-First Will Not Be Enough

Thomas Husson

The global mobile revolution is still in its early stages! Forrester forecasts that there will be nearly 3.5 billion individual smartphone users among more than 5 billion individual mobile subscribers by 2019. Mobile will clearly be the new battleground where you must win, serve, and retain your customers globally. Mobile is no longer simply a digital channel; it is an opportunity to transform customer experiences and to invent new businesses. It will be the hub of new connected experiences in mature economies but the ultimate “converged” medium in emerging ones.

To move away from simply shrinking and squeezing their desktop PC websites and ads onto mobile, many B2C marketers have embraced the notion of “mobile-first”. They are starting to design websites and marketing campaigns with mobile in mind instead of simply retrofitting their approach to mobile. More often than not, mobile-first still implies that you consider mobile as channel. While you must design with mobile in mind and adapt your content to smaller screens, this approach won’t be enough to fully address the upcoming global mobile revolution.

Marketers must now leverage mobile to transform their customer experience and to act as a catalyst for business disruption.

■  B2C Marketers must transform the overall experience to win in customers’ mobile moments . . .Marketers must stop thinking about mobile as a goal or a strategy and start thinking about how it can help them achieve their overall marketing and business objectives. Only 14% of the companies we surveyed have started down this path, and only 4% of them have allocated the resources, budget, and organization needed to undergo their own mobile mind shift. Those that are investing in the mobile mind shift are pulling ahead.

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Winners Of The 2015 Forrester Groundswell Awards

Nate Elliott

A few moments ago at Forrester's Forum for Marketing Leaders in New York, I announced the winners of the 2015 Forrester Groundswell Awards. Believe it or not, this is now the ninth edition of our awards — and it was one of our most competitive years yet. As always, the awards were based on Forrester’s Marketing RaDaR model and the way social programs can support the Marketing RaDaR. That means we presented awards in three categories:

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Select The Right Agency To Help Overcome Your Top Digital Challenges

Xiaofeng Wang

Marketing leaders in China are looking at the largest and fast-growing digital market in the world and face more challenges in digital marketing than ever. As a result, they need more and more help from their digital agency partners. My new report, Overcome Top Digital Challenges In 2015: Choosing The Right Digital Agency In China helps them to do so.

In China, digital disruption is affecting nearly all industries, including telecommunications (WeChat); transportation and travel (Didi Dache, Kuaidi Dache); and banking and financial services (WeChat Payment, Alipay Wallet). In this digital era, marketers in China face opportunities and challenges in digital marketing:

  • Opportunities: fast-growing digital marketing budgets and more digital marketing duties. More than three-quarters of the marketers responding to Forrester’s Q1 2015 China Digital Marketing Online Survey indicated that they will increase their digital marketing budget in 2015. Also, they are increasingly expanding their digital marketing duties into newer areas such as social and mobile marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), and eCommerce.
  • Challenges: meeting increased pressure to deliver business outcomes. Marketing leaders are bearing more responsibility for business outcomes. As a result, they face the challenge of measuring the results of digital marketing efforts and achieving positive ROI. Marketers are increasingly concerned with the effectiveness of their digital marketing spending and are striving for better strategies, tactics, and targeting.
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It Has Been A busy Quarter For Social Media, But What Does That Mean For You?

Erna Alfred Liousas
Believe it or not, the first quarter of 2015 is officially complete. Between the snow accumulations (especially) in the Northeast, the subsequent melting process, and the ever-evolving social media landscape, we've been busy. One of my takeaways from the social world is that FOMO (fear of missing out) is alive and well across several audiences. Let me recap a few social highlights and share a bit more on my takeaways. 
  • Snapchat carries a 15 billion dollar valuation and reportedly somewhere between 100 and 200 million active users. Is Snapchat for every brand? Most likely not, but it has a measure of appeal for a particular audience. This group doesn't want to miss out on anything and they also like things that are exclusive and momentary. That's probably the draw for Snapchat's massive Millennial audience. 
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A Formal Social Marketing Structure Is Key To Success In Asia Pacific

Clement Teo

Discussing with Asia Pacific marketers, I often hear that they struggle to find and recruit the right social marketing skills, including data analysts. While staffing is important insofar as tactics go, having a proper team structure to execute on these tactics is, in my view, even more crucial.

In fact, they can mitigate some of these HR challenges with a properly structured social team. My report on building a usable social team structure addresses how organizational models will evolve as social marketing matures. These models include the a) Hub, b) Hub and spoke and c) distributed hub and spoke. 

The Hub, for example, is meant to help firms that are starting out on social marketing. This could be a firm that is beginning to get more serious about how social is used strategically to drive business outcomes, or one that operates in highly regulated industries like banking and finance. The centralized hub model puts all of the responsibility (and money) for social marketing in the hands of one small team. This model provides training wheels for marketers for social marketing — especially in learning how to coordinate or test social marketing campaigns in the early phases of social maturity. A centralized hub acts as an incubator for social marketing experimentation and allows other teams to focus on their own objectives until the social program can be implemented at scale with minimal risk. Execution can be in-house, but some marketers partner with an external agency for additional dedicated resources.

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Hello World. It's Audience-Centric design.

Ryan Skinner

Today I heard an agency describe the content strategy that it was working for a client. At the end of the description (which revolved around how the client saw itself, and what it wanted to talk about), I said: “That sounds like an ad pitch.” Awkward silence.

Right now, in meeting rooms around the world, bad ideas for content strategies are being hatched. And it’s no fault of the idea-hatchers.

Sitting in a meeting room.
Thinking about the company’s (or client’s) management or board.
Needing to sell an idea in to sceptical constituents.
Knowing, no matter what they hatch, it’ll get enough paid air cover to make it look a winner.

So they lay an almighty egg of a content strategy. An egg that, within the hothouse confines of the group that hatched it, meets only reaffirmation. But the content strategy doesn’t serve customers. Not at all. And it doesn’t serve the real strategic goals of the company behind it.

How do you get around this natural tendency of organizations to lay eggs?

You need a very strong counterweight to the natural tendency towards basic self-interestedness from the parties involved (client approval for the agency, peer approval for the marketer, and self-serving messages for the internal stakeholders).

Audience-centric design is the response. Taking its cues from the user-centric design discipline, audience-centric design relies on rich and direct audience observation – both their attitudes and behaviors – in order to inspire value in the eyes of the audience.

What types of observation are we talking about?

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Key Takeaways From Mobile World Congress 2015

Thomas Husson

This year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona brought together 90,000 attendees, including 4,500 CEOs and a growing number of CMOs and marketing leaders. Let’s face it: MWC, unlike SXSW, Cannes Lions, ad:tech, or dmexco, is not a leading marketing and advertising event. However, because mobile is a catalyst for business transformation, MWC is progressively morphing from a business-to-business (B2B) telecom trade show to an event that affects all industries, from automotive to payments. 

I think MWC 2015 was still too technology focused. Too many announcements and headlines at MWC 2015 focused on the launch of new hardware devices, from the new Galaxy S6 to virtual reality headsets; centered on telecom technologies, such as 5G; or focused on the technology OS wars, which will be irrelevant for marketers this year. However, marketers could get a glimpse of what it means to deliver contextual experiences. By cutting through the hype and taking a look at innovative, specialized mobile marketing and ad tech companies at MWC, marketers can get a better sense of how they can act on data to deliver more-contextualized and more-personalized experiences across new connected devices and objects.

My colleague Dan Bieler put together his observations of what MWC means for CIOs in his blog post. Together, we will host a free Webinar tomorrow (Thursday, March 12) at 4pm CET / 3pm GMT / 10am ET, you can still register here.

For clients willing to know more about this, you can access my new report.

Looking For New Ways To Connect With Your Customers?

Erna Alfred Liousas
People are always curious to know what's new with social. What new content types are there? What new sites should I pay the most attention to these days? Listen, the real question isn't about what's new, but rather what has evolved and how that evolution ties into what we do everyday. Video is part of that evolution. It is now available in multiple sizes, including microvideo, short-form, and long-form video, across social channels. Just take a quick look at these updates:
 
  • Facebook recently cited more than 3 billion daily video views within its site.
  • Standalone mobile apps such as Instagram and Vine have taken audiences by storm, making it effortless to take and share videos.
  • Even Twitter has a native video player now, making it easier to create and share video within its app. 
Video has the ability to emotionally connect and pull an audience into a story in as little as a few seconds. My report "Connect with the Power of Microvideo" introduces marketers to the concept of microvideo. Marketers will learn how the use of Instagram and Vine enables brands to create emotionally responsive content. In addition, I highlight the nuances between both channels and provide a few tips on how to using these channels. Read my report and share your thoughts and questions.