A Verizon/Yahoo! Deal Could Usher In Customer-Obsessed Omnichannel Experiences

Yahoo!'s assets are on the sales block. And of the several potentials in the final stages of the bidding process, Verizon is getting a lot of speculation, perhaps because many consider it unlikely that Verizon will/should take Yahoo! too after picking up that other Web fossil, AOL, one year ago.  

Here are my thoughts:

 

  • Verizon wants Yahoo to fill out its omni channel content and advertising play.  The more access to customer data it has (online through Yahoo and AOL, in home via cable boxes, on mobile via smart devices) the more targeted it can be with advertising and sponsored content or product placements across those same devices.  This allows Verizon to create better ad products which is competitive against primarily online giants (Google) and creates a better user experience which is competitive against other cable and telecom providers.
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Post-Digital Marketers Use Customer Experience To Demonstrate Their Brand Promises

Customer experience is critical to business success.  But customer experience simply for customer experience sake can leave businesses chasing customer whims that don't align with operational goals or brand identity. (See Figure 5 in Thriving In A Post Digital World).  Forrester Senior Analyst Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha tackled this difficulty of balancing customer experience and brand experience in her after-lunch presentation at Marketing Europe 2016. 

Her research identifies four ways to avoid brand and customer experience dissonance:

1) Paint a vivid picture -- This is not about building a 60 page static brand strategy, but rather determining the key emotional moments a customer goes through and identifying how to meet those needs with on brand experiences.  AirBNB storyboarded critical moments for both their hosts and guests and uses these storyboards to focus the efforts of marketing, customer service and employee training.

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Marketing Leaders Will Provoke Customer Obsession By Developing Post-Digital Strategies

And Forrester's Marketing 2016 Europe forum is under way!

Forum host Melissa Parrish just kicked off our two days in London by acknowledging that ideas related to customer obsession aren't new per se.  John Spedan Lewis, originated the John Lewis Partnership in 1929 which distributed profits from the John Lewis department stores to employees, specifically so that employees would be invested in delivering exceptional customer service.  What is new today is that the post-digital climate has raised customer expectations from brand experiences and introduced new, faster ways for businesses to get customers what they want in their moment of need.

So how can you -- as a marketing leader at your organization -- drive customer obsession and post-digital strategies?

James McQuivey presented the answer to this question based on his most recent research Leadership In The Age of The Customer.

How leaders act has more influence on business culture and transformation than who they are or what they say.  Customer obsessed leaders specifically:

  • Measure customer obsessed behavior
  • Reward people for performing against those metrics
  • Unblock performance inhibitors by removing obstacles
  • Model customer obsessed behaviors that they want employees to demonstrate
  • Provide resources

In my morning keynote tomorrow, I will be addressing how demonstrating the actions James highlighted will help your brand be more Human, Helpful and Handy -- the key characteristics of post-digital marketers.  Can't wait!

Has Technology Changed How We Think?

I've just started work on a report tentatively titled "How People Choose." I'm interested in studying how technology is influencing user decision processes. My hypothesis is that technology is fundamentally rewiring us so we actually rely more heavily on gut-based decisions than on well-rationalized ones. If you buy Daniel Kahneman's notions of fast and slow thinking (others have called it irrational and reasonable, or emotional vs rational thought), then my theory is that people are outsourcing more and more of their rational decisions to technology. This means, that what is left for most of us is a heavier reliance on our fast thinking, our impulses, and our gut-based response, when making decisions.
 
If this hypothesis is true, then marketers should actually focus on influencing impulse, rather than all of the linear, direct-response types of marketing sequences they prioritize today.
 
I'm just kicking off my research, so my overall hypothesis may evolve as I get some research under my belt. But my end goal is to write a report for marketing execs that would help them think through HOW to influence user decisions in a future where the fundamentals of how we make decisions have changed.
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US Digital Marketing Will Pass TV In Two Years, Topping $100B By 2019

I am happy to announce the latest release of Forrester's five-year digital marketing forecast, a data-rich tool for budgeting, benchmarking, and identifying key trends to watch as you set your 2015 strategic plan. What you need to know:

  • US Digital marketing spend will top $100 billion in five years. Just think about how big that is. By 2019 in the United States, digital will be almost twice as large as it is now. It will be about $13 billion more than television advertising, and it will count for 35% of all advertising spend.
  • Growth is healthy but not runaway. We expect a 12% CAGR between now and 2019, which is a healthy slope, especially when considering numbers of this magnitude. But it is worth noting that this growth isn't skyrocketing. Marketers 15 year look-back window allows them the experience and performance data they need to know when to invest in digital, but also when not to overspend.
  • Mobile marketing represents 66% of growth. This year, we included mobile as a deployment option (akin to desktop) for search, display, or social ad impressions. So you won't see it as its own line item in the forecast. But rest assured, increased use of mobile by consumers, growing familiarity with mobile advertising by marketers, improvements to ad formats, metrics and buying practices, and increasing mobile ad costs will make mobile count for $46 billion of our $100 billion bogie by 2019.
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SalesForce/ExactTarget Deal Means More Complexity For Marketers

This morning, salesforce.com announced plans to acquire marketing technology ExactTarget for $2.5 billion, a 53% premium over ExactTarget's (ET) closing price on Monday, June 3, 2016. My colleague Rob Brosnan and I put our heads together to think about the ramifications of this deal for the marketer clients we work with.

We think the deal is a win for salesforce.com (SFDC). It brings SFDC market-leading campaign execution capabilities to round out SFDC access to customers (and their data) across the decision cycle. For B2B marketers, especially those already using ET’s Pardot, the deal brings good integration and development possibilities. But the deal goes much further than B2B, and it isn't so rosy for ET’s B2C customers. We expect:

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Epsilon Emphasizes Email Product (At Last!)

 

I had breakfast a week ago with Taleen Ghazarian, the VP of Strategy and Planning and Bob Zurek the new SVP of Products from Epsilon.  The meeting was to re-introduce me to Zurek (full disclosure, he is a former Forrester analyst; worked on a lot of our CRM research several years ago) and brief me on his plans for Epsilon’s new platform.  I think Epsilon’s focus on product innovation is overdue (no argument from Zurek or Ghazarian there).  But I agreed with Zurek’s vision for where to take things.  Specifically, his plans are:

Aggressive: Customers told us as part of our most recent email vendor Wave evaluation that they felt disappointed by Epsilon’s unfulfilled promise of a technology update.  Well, Zurek’s charter is create a technology that not only updates any places where current Epsilon tools fall short, but to actually create a brand new platform that out performs any competitors.  We’ll see of course, how it delivers.  But I admired Zurek’s passion and commitment, and his recognition that Epsilon had to over perform here in order to stay competitive in the digital space.

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Marissa Mayer Doesn't Fit Yahoo!'s Needs

Yahoo! announced tonight that Google's Marissa Mayer would take over tomorrow as Yahoo!'s CEO and President.  Obviously Mayer has long experience in the space and brings good competitive knowledge, particularly related to search marketing.  But I'm disappointed by this choice, here's why.

*Yahoo! needs a strategic visionary, not a product engineer.  Yahoo!'s fundamental problem is that it has too many disparate products with no clear unifying thread that ties them all together. And Mayer's background is in product development...not corporate strategy, not marketing, not brand definition...the areas where Yahoo! has the most critical need.

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Kicking Off Forrester's Search Marketing Wave(s)

I’m doing it.  Waving three vendor categories at the same time.  And I can’t wait (seriously, no satire intended.)

For those of you less familiar, Forrester’s Waves are detailed analyses of technology vendor and service providers done in order to help our user clients select the best partners for them. (Please note: the keyword in the preceding sentence is detailed. A Wave typically takes 12 weeks to conduct and includes multiple inputs like product demos, client reference interviews, and written responses to an RFP-like questionnaire).

Well, over the course of the next three months, I will be waving search marketing agencies, bid management platforms, and SEO automation tools. In the past, I have evaluated only search marketing agencies as many of them provided proprietary technologies, and stand-alone technologies were still quite immature. But since Q4 2011, I’ve gotten more and more inquiries about search marketing technology players as well. And search technologies have really made some strides in the last 12 months.

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Direct Marketers Share Smart Online Lessons

My colleague Sarah Takvorian attended the New England Direct Marketing Association’s (NEDMA) spring Marketing Technology Summit in Boston. Here are the lessons learned in Sarah’s words: 

  • Create socially enabled marketing campaigns. In his keynote address, Harry Gold, CEO of Boston’s digital marketing firm Overdrive Interactive, reminded us that you don’t need a million Facebook fans (in fact, most companies will never reach that number). To capitalize on the fans you do have, and in turn extend your reach to the people who orbit those fans, you need to integrate social media into your broader marketing mix, working across channels and allowing their successes to play off of and feed into one another and then measuring the results, of course. 
  • Add clear calls to action. Prominently display “Like” or “Share” buttons in your emails or on your site’s most interesting, share-worthy content (perhaps a compelling graphic, article, or product). When someone presses Like on your site, they might not be a Facebook fan, but their action will still feed back into their Facebook newsfeed, thereby allowing you to tap into their network of friends and boosting your brand’s social presence. For example, Levi’s increased its Facebook traffic by 40% when it invited users to “like” content on its Website. 
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