Engaging Your Ultra-Connected Customers

Back in March, I hinted at my discomfort with the way SoLoMo has come to mean technology-focused, reductive marketing campaigns usually solely focused on the “check-in.”   But the reason people want to talk about SoLoMo is because of real trends in consumer adoption of technology and advanced technology behaviors. Those of you who were at Forrester’s Marketing Leadership Forum last month know that this thinking evolved into what we’ve been calling the Always Addressable Customer — a topic that I haven’t stopped talking about since we debuted it. For those of you who haven’t yet heard the term, the Always Addressable Customer is someone who:

·         Owns and uses at least 3 data connected devices

·         Accesses the Internet multiple times per day

·         Goes online from multiple physical locations (for example: home, work, in the car, and at the mall)

These customers require marketers to think differently about their programs if they want to be effective. Always Addressable Customers don’t stop to think about their devices or “technology solutions.” Rather, technology is simply how they live their lives and get stuff done. It means that you can now reach this ultra-connected audience wherever they are, but more importantly, wherever and whenever they need you. That “need” is key here: I’m not talking about your ability to bombard your customer with irrelevant messages. I’m talking about how you can now provide true service and value to your customers whenever and wherever they need it. 

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SoLoMo Or So Not Yet?

Are you thinking about SoLoMo yet?  My clients definitely are, and I haven’t been surprised by the number of questions I’m getting about it considering that 86% of US online adults engage in social media and 2/3 of online Generation Y fall into the SuperConnected category of Mobile Technographics®. But what does SoLoMo really mean?

It’s a concept that brings together social, local, and mobile media — and it’s intriguing to marketers because incorporating social engagement, local targeting, and the mobile customer into a single program seems like it should lead to especially creative and effective engagement. But I’ve been researching this topic over the past couple of months and I have a couple of concerns:  

  • First, the way we talk about SoLoMo puts too much focus on the technology and easily lets marketers slip back into technology-first strategies driven by trends rather than audience insights.   
  • Second,  SoLoMo programs often take the form of a check-in offer today. This can certainly be an effective marketing tactic for retailers and brands with brick-and-mortar presences. But isn't there something SoLoMo can offer other brands?
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Principles For Mobile Marketing Success

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

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

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"?

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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Twitter Launches Brand Pages: What It Means For You

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

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

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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It's Time To Start Thinking About Social Media Training

Over the past several months, I’ve been hearing a lot of clients say they’re ready for the next step in social media. Many marketers —probably most of you reading this post — have already established your initial social footprints and are ready to move on to the next phase of social media maturity. But as my colleague Sean Corcoran’s social maturity curve shows, the further along you move, the more people you need to involve to keep your social trains running — and that introduces more risk.

One of the most important ways marketers are avoiding problems as more colleagues start participating in social programs is to spearhead training programs in their companies.  My latest research explores the spectrum of these training programs, which ranges from casual all the way through formal certification. 

You can see from this chart that training programs are developed across four dimensions: content, delivery, participants, and measurement. The programs don’t always fall firmly and neatly into one level of difficulty across all these segments. Rather, training evolves as the company’s commitment to social media evolves, moving through formats till formalization is achieved. Usually:

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