Thursday, December 27, 2007

Access to Marketing Content Results in Increased Sales Effectiveness

The relationship between sales and marketing departments has traditionally been a fragmented one; however, as companies focus on ways to increase sales effectiveness, the mutual sharing of content and information between sales and marketing has emerged as a method to increase sales productivity. A recent survey of over 250 companies by Aberdeen Group found that 78 percent of Best-in-Class companies provide sales with access to a centralized repository of marketing materials.

As a result of this shared content between sales and marketing, Best-in-Class companies have improved time-to-close rates by nearly one day, compared to the increase of one day in time-to-close rates experienced by Laggards.

Aberdeen’s latest report, “Sales Effectiveness: Leveraging Content to Close Deals,” revealed that the top pressure causing all organizations to devise ways to increase sales productivity is the constant need to increase market share. Despite the fact that Best-in-Class companies are 1.8 times as likely as others to rate themselves as “extremely aligned” in the area of branding and messaging, there is still a heavy implementation of technology solutions on the part of Best-in-Class companies to assure that an increase in sales productivity results in an increase in market share.

For example, Best-in-Class companies utilize sales analytics (61 percent), content feedback solutions (39 percent), and closed-loop marketing (35 percent) to ensure that the processes designed to optimize sales win rates are successful.

Furthermore, 0 percent of Best-in-Class companies fail to measure lead conversion rates, compared to 4 percent of the Industry Average and 14 percent of Laggards. Best-in-Class companies are leveraging their organizational processes, technology enablers, and performance measurement insight to achieve compelling results.

The report demonstrates the value of implementing key process, performance, and organizational capabilities to ensure that valuable content is shared between marketing and sales. By utilizing dedicated operations resources (83 percent) and processes for generating customized customer documents (57 percent), Best-in-Class companies are able to reduce the amount of time sales representatives spend on administrative and non-selling tasks.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Monday, December 24, 2007

Research Shows Consumers Value Direct Mail, But Misunderstand Environmental Impact

A new survey reveals that consumers value much of the direct mail they receive, but they also dramatically misperceive its true environmental impact. The findings suggest that industry efforts to educate the public will yield an improved perception of mail’s environmental footprint.

Consistent with other industry studies, consumers in this survey place a high value on the coupons and catalogs they receive in the mail. Mail also helps consumers start and maintain relationships with businesses and nonprofits, with 44 percent of respondents making their first purchase from a business and 33 percent making their first donation to a nonprofit because of a mail piece.

The survey found that negative perceptions of mail’s environmental impact are based on widespread public misunderstandings. For example, only 2 percent of Americans correctly guessed that mail makes up just 2 percent of the nation’s municipal waste, while an astonishing 48 percent believe that mail is half of the content in the nation’s landfills.

Americans also believe, incorrectly, that mail delivery is a major contributor to carbon dioxide emissions. The truth is that mail delivery falls well below many other daily activities in its carbon footprint, such as taking a shower or using household appliances.

The survey suggests that public education will enhance consumer perception of direct mail. For example, more than 70 percent of respondents said it would improve their view of mail if marketers used address correcting software to minimize undeliverable mail.

More information about Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Some Retailers Missing Sales Opportunities This Holiday Season, Some Turning Holiday Shoppers Into Long-Term Fans

The holiday season is a key time to attract new customers, according to a new survey conducted by Deloitte, but many retailers may be falling short in this critical "audition."

While many retailers make a large percentage of their annual sales during the holiday season, they also lose many sales opportunities due to poor execution and planning. According to Deloitte's survey, so far this holiday season 89 percent of shoppers have left a store, or a department in a store, without purchasing anything, most frequently because the store did not have an item they wanted to purchase, they couldn't find the item they were looking for, or the specific item or size they were looking for was out of stock.

Indeed, it's clear from the survey that many consumers try out new stores during the holiday season and that this is a key time for retailers to attract new customers. So far this holiday season, 38 percent of consumers have shopped in a retail store that they had not been in previously, and 45 percent of consumers have shopped at an online retailer that they had not visited previously. A strong majority of these shoppers made purchases: 89 percent made a purchase in one or more of the "new" retail stores they visited and 70 percent made a purchase at one or more of the "new" online retailers they visited. Most importantly, these trials can turn first time customers into repeat customers -- approximately nine out of 10 of these consumers (93 percent for stores, 89 percent for websites) expect to add one or more of these retailers to their future shopping repertoires.

The Internet has been instrumental in helping consumers find these new retailers, both brick-and-mortar and online. An Internet search was the No. 1 factor that led consumers to a new online retailer, and approximately one in seven survey respondents said an online search led them to the store-based retailer.

Additional findings from this survey:
-- 31 percent of consumers have purchased gifts that they researched on the Internet and bought in a store
-- 14 percent of consumers have purchased /ordered on a retailer's website and then picked up in a store
-- 13 percent of consumers have purchased gifts that were environmentally friendly, or green
-- 13 percent of consumers have purchased gifts online, while at work

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Study Asks: What's in a Name?

Just because they know you doesn't mean they like you. Or so suggests a new CMO Council study. Research focused on business-to-business relationships in the tech sector suggests virtually no intersection between brand awareness and customer affinity. The names IT professionals most recognized -- HP, Dell, Microsoft, Google, IBM -- did not receive a corollating spot on the study's customer affinity index. The top positions went instead to NetApp, Juniper, InterSystems, Polycom and Synnex.More than a big brand, customers said they look for "competence, quality service and support."

More than a big brand, customers said they look for "competence, quality service and support."

Among key findings of the new study:

- Fifty-six percent of vendors perceive themselves as being extremely customer-centric, but only 12 percent of customers agree. An overwhelming majority of vendors—85 percent—are convinced that they are getting better at responding to customer needs, but 45 percent of customers disagree.

- More than half of customers surveyed described their relationships with vendors as “dependent and captive,” “struggling for common ground,” or “combative and adversarial.” When asked to describe their relationships with the channel, 45 percent of customers surveyed evaluated their channel relationships similarly.

- More than 30 percent of customer respondents said they would terminate relationships with companies that fail to gain their trust; 62 percent would scale back existing engagements, while 7 percent would no longer consider the vendor for future business.

- Co-innovation with customers is vital to building customer affinity. Nearly six out of 10 customers say co-innovation is extremely or very important, with another 30 percent agreeing that it is at least somewhat important. Customer responses indicated that collaborative, two-way conversations—followed by continuous improvement—build customer affinity.

- Vendors seem to understand that channel partners truly are partners in their success, and that going to market effectively with the channel is critical to maximizing their value to customers. Yet only 8 percent of vendor marketing respondents said they do an extremely good job of teaming with the channel to build stronger customer affinity.

Source: AdWeek

More information about Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

60% of Internet Users Unaware and Unconcerned About Extent of Personal Data Available Online

Forty-seven percent of Internet users have searched for their own name online, but few monitor their online presence with great regularity. Fifty-three percent of Internet users have searched online for information about personal and business contacts. The study "Digital Footprints: Online identity management and search in the age of transparency" also found that 60 percent of Internet users say they are not worried about how much information is available about them online.

These findings represent a significant change from when the Pew Internet Project first reported on this activity in 2002, at which time 22 percent of Internet users had searched online for their own name.

More powerful search engines have made it easier to find a match for a personal name search and the "participatory Web" has made it more interesting. The explosion of blogs, YouTube, Flickr, and online profiles have increased the size of people's digital footprints, but few adult Internet users have made digital identity management a routine part of their online lives. Indeed, just looking at those who use social networking sites, a higher percentage of teens than adults are restricting access to their profiles.

Most Internet users are unconcerned about the extent of the data available about them online:

- 60 percent of Internet users say they are not worried about how much information is available about them online.

- 38 percent of Internet users say they have taken steps to limit the amount of online information that is available about them.

But it could be that they are simply unaware:

- Roughly one third of Internet users say the following pieces of information are available online: their email address, home address, home phone number or their employer.

- One quarter of Internet users say a photo, names of groups they belong to, or things they have written that have their name on it appear online.

- Few Internet users say their political affiliation, cell phone number, or video appear online.

In interviews with the Pew Internet Project, privacy advocates and professional researchers argued that many of these data points are indeed available about most people, either on the open Web or in select online databases.

When asked about eight different groups of people one might search for online—ranging from family and friends to romantic interests and business colleagues—53 percent of adult Internet users said they had looked for information connected to at least one of these groups.

These searches for others are often focused on basic contact information, but can be wide-ranging:

- 72 percent of people searchers have sought contact information online.

- 37 percent of people searchers look to the Web for information about someone’s professional accomplishments or interests.

- 33 percent of people searchers have sought out someone’s profile on a social and professional networking site.

- 31 percent have searched for someone’s photo.

- 31 percent have searched for someone else’s public records, such as real estate transactions, divorce proceedings, bankruptcies, or other legal actions.

- 28 percent have searched for someone’s personal background information.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Monday, December 17, 2007

Retail Firms Ranked High in Area of Communication With Customers in 2007

The Customer Respect Group, an international research and consulting firm that focuses on how corporations treat their online customers, released findings from its Fourth Quarter 2007 Online Customer Respect Study of the Retail Industry. The study evaluated the websites of a representative sample of major retail companies. Using a common set of criteria, it is the only study to bring an objective and consistent measure to the analysis of corporate performance from an online customer’s perspective.

The retail industry was rated best in the area of communicating with online visitors in 2007, scoring 7.0 in Responsiveness, compared to 6.5 scored by the next highest-rated industries -- financial services and telecommunications. The variety of contact methods available to retail customers was one positive factor.

Twenty-two percent of retail sites now provide online chat, compared to the all-industry average of just 12%. Also noted was the emergence of pro-active “chat,” where visitors are invited to engage in a context-sensitive dialog based on their online behavior. “click to call” prompting a telephone call directly from the retailer to the user also showed a strong upward trend as retailers look to limit site abandonment.

Other communication channels remain well supported. Sixty-five percent of e-mail inquiries to retail companies were responded to within a day, compared to 57% among all other industries studied during the year.. Eighty-three percent of inquiries received a helpful reply -- again well ahead of the average of 60%.

Moving around a site by “fast track” methods is a focus of retail sites, with 96% of retail sites containing FAQ sections, compared to 61% among all other industries, with those FAQs generally easy to locate (65% were linked from the homepage) and well structured (over 82% contained a search facility and / or anchor links). The percentage of sites containing a site search facility was again above average (96% vs. 73%).

However, the retail industry did not cater particularly well to disabled visitors and its Accessibility rating was below the all-industry average for 2007.

Another online retail trend is the increasing capability for users to make selections (70%) and see prices (72%) before registering on the site.

More information about Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Nearly 95 Percent of Email, Spam Now Rated Worst Form of Junk Advertising

Barracuda Networks, Inc., a provider of email and Web security appliances, has released its annual spam report. The findings included: 1) The majority of business professionals view spam email as the worst form of junk advertising - worse than postal junk mail and telemarketing calls, and 2) spam email accounted for 90 to 95 percent of all email in 2007, up from an estimated five percent of email in 2001.

The study, based on an analysis of more than one billion daily email messages sent to its more than 50,000 customers worldwide, found that 90 to 95 percent of all email sent in 2007 was spam, increasing from an estimated 85 to 90 percent of email in 2006. This growing proportion is even more significant when compared to 2004, when the federal CAN-SPAM Act, which set parameters for sending unsolicited email and defined penalties for spammers, went into effect. At that time spam was 70 percent of all email. In 2001, spam accounted for only five percent of email messages.

Barracuda Networks also conducted a separate poll of business professionals and found that of the 261 respondents, 57 percent view spam email as the worst form of junk advertising, close to double the 31 percent that cited postal junk mail. Only 12 percent chose telemarketing.
Barracuda Networks’ poll also showed that 50 percent of users received five or fewer spam emails in their inbox each day. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) received less than 10 spam messages each day, while 13 percent were inundated with 50 or more spam emails daily.

Barracuda Networks’ report also tracked the evolving complexity of spam techniques over the past several years, finding that the majority of spam emails in 2007 utilized identity obfuscation techniques, in which spammers send email from diverse sources throughout the Internet, thus hiding their own identity from traditional reputation checks that profile sender network addresses. Further, by registering new domains or by redirecting to spam Web domains through reputable blogs, free Web site providers, or URL redirection services, spammers can effectively hide their identities from traditional reputation checks that profile spam Web domains.

Spammers also increased the usage of attachments, such as PDF files and other file formats in 2007. Prominent spam techniques from previous years include:

  • 2006 - Image spam, botnets
  • 2005 - Rotating URL spam
  • 2004 - Automated generation of spam variants
  • 2003 - Open relays, blast emails, spoofing

Spammers are increasingly emulating retail store fronts by tailoring their content around national holidays. For example, Barracuda Networks detected a significant increase in the number of emails directing recipients to phishing Web sites on Thanksgiving Day 2007 as scammers rushed to cash in on the ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ online consumer shopping sprees. In January, consumers can expect to be flooded with New Year’s Resolution spam in the form of weight loss ads and offers for online college degrees.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Key Strategies For Evolving CMOs Into Strategic Business Leaders

Two-thirds of chief marketing officers (CMOs) want more involvement in business strategy development and increased profit and loss responsibility, according to a joint study conducted by Forrester Research, Inc. and Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. The survey indicated a disconnect between the career aspirations of marketing leaders and how they spend their time. When asked which competencies are the most important to their personal success, 82 percent of chief marketers identified strategic thinking as a top imperative. Other leadership-driven competencies such as people management/team development, relationship building with the senior executive team

One way CMOs can forge a business partnership with key stakeholders in the organization is by creating brands and offerings that are highly relevant to customers, therefore helping the company acquire new customers, drive stronger customer loyalty, improve retention, and enable bottom-line growth. However, according to the survey, one-quarter of CMOs are not involved in any way with customer service and support, distancing marketing from what customers are saying in the field. In addition, less than half of CMOs identified being the voice of the customer a top priority for their personal success, with even fewer identifying listening to/interacting with customers, and personal knowledge of customers as crucial to their jobs.

More information about Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

One in Five U.K. Firms Has a Head of CRM

One in five (19%) top UK corporations have now demonstrated their commitment to customer relationship management by appointing a dedicated Head of CRM, a study by integrated marketing specialist GI Insight has found. This is a substantial increase on the proportion (14.5%) two years ago and represents a growth rate in dedicated CRM Directors of almost one third in the last two years.

The study also analyzed the number of Heads of CRM in total, including those that also have another main job, such as Marketing Director or Customer Services Director. The findings show that 48% of UK top 500 companies now employ a Head of CRM compared to 44% in 2005. These findings serve as a barometer of ‘CRM commitment’ and were compared to findings from 2005.

More detailed analysis of the study revealed a number of sectors that score particularly highly for appointing Heads of CRM. Three industries stand out from the crowd:

- Retail – of retail organizations appointing a Head of CRM, 52% of these are dedicated Heads of CRM. Because transactional data is so fundamental to customer relationship management in retail, the sector’s leading position for appointing dedicated Heads of CRM may well also reflect some of the ways in which retailers can use the data and analysis outputs that come out of their CRM programs.

- Media and entertainment – of media and entertainment organizations appointing a Head of CRM, 50% of these are dedicated Heads of CRM. This was entirely unexpected. Music labels, publishers, broadcasters, cinemas, and so on are, after all, mainstays of the above-the-line advertising industry. However, customer value is often much higher now than in the past. Newspapers are engaging their readers with a wide range of online and offline services, music publishers are also issuing games, technology, infotainment products and much more. And the culture of home entertainment has been vastly boosted by increasing levels of DVD viewing and television usage.

- Travel/leisure/hotel - of travel, leisure and hotel organizations appointing a Head of CRM, 46% are dedicated Heads of CRM. Businesses in this sector seem to be coming back into play as effective CRM players. This is a crucial return to form for the sector, seen in the 1980s as pioneers of loyalty and database marketing initiatives, but who slipped to the back of the pack in the 1990s and the early years of the new millennium.

Source: CustomerThink

More information about Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Monday, December 10, 2007

One in Four Interested in Mobile Marketing, But That is Likely to Grow

The third annual study by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) provides insights into overall consumer mobile usage by demographic group, awareness and usage of mobile phone features and services, and interest in and concerns about specific applications. The study’s key findings include:

- Interest in mobile marketing remains as high as it was in the previous two surveys. One in four respondents in the 2007 survey expressed interest in mobile marketing. Although some respondents had difficulty readily associating benefits with mobile marketing, those who do say that they value the ability to receive highly relevant information, the coupons and rewards received and the convenience of accessing the desired applications quickly and easily.

- The number of consumers who have experienced mobile marketing continues to grow. One out of 20 respondents had participated in mobile marketing. The highest participation is among respondents age 25-44.

- Sweepstakes and voting campaigns are the most widely used types of mobile marketing. The second most common type is receiving alerts about products, services, accounts. Ten percent of respondents have used their mobile phones to receive and redeem coupons.

- Ethnic groups are key audiences for mobile marketing. For example, African Americans and English-dominant Hispanics indicate stronger interest in mobile marketing than Caucasians. These findings suggest that the mobile channel can be highly effective for reaching specific ethnic groups.

Teens and young adults use text messaging more than any other demographic. People ages 13-24 send and receive the most – more than 50 messages per week – while half of all survey respondents use text messaging at least once a week. This usage shows that most mobile users are at least familiar with text messaging, if not regular users, making it an effective tool for mobile marketing campaigns.

Also noteworthy is that 54 percent of 13-34 year olds use SMS for social networking, while 44 percent of 13-34 year olds said they use text messaging for flirting or dating, and 10 percent of 13-34 year olds said they have broken up with a boy or girl friend using text messaging.

More information about Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Online customer engagement becoming a priority

Marketers are paying more attention to online customer engagement than ever before, with 77% of companies saying that its importance has increased in the past 12 months, according to a survey by E-Consultancy and cScape.

The 'Online Customer Engagement Survey' report showed that the majority of companies (90%) believe that online customer engagement is either 'essential' or 'important' to them. The report also found that companies are using a wide range of methods to interact with customers, including web-based and desktop 'widgets' (small software applications) as well as participation in social networks and uploading to video-sharing web sites such as YouTube.

Many marketers are now realizing that they need to take an integrated approach that embraces all the channels used by their customers, as a "consistent online and offline customer experience" was seen as being 'essential' or 'very important' by 86%.

The survey found evidence that many companies have already been taking steps to deliver a more integrated customer experience. Since the first edition of the survey at the end of 2006 there has been a significant improvement in the number of organizations that are either 'very advanced' or 'quite advanced' at mapping customer experiences.

Nearly one in five companies (18%) said that they are already using web-based widgets, while a further 39% plan to use them in the future. A widget is essentially a third party software application that can be embedded in a web page, and holds particular attraction for marketers because it can help achieve off-site visibility and engagement.

Almost one third (32%) of the companies surveyed said they are planning to use social networks (such as Facebook), and a further 19% are already using them. Video-sharing web sites are being used by 21%, and a further 29% are planning to use them in the future.

The full report has been made available for download from cScape's web site.

Source: TheWiseMarketer

More information about Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Many Web Retailers Miss The Basics

Online retailers are failing to execute on many e-commerce basics, according to FutureNow's "2007 Retail Customer Experience Study." FutureNow sent mystery shoppers and analysts to over 300 retail Web sites.

Of those sites,
  • 74% offered estimated delivery times
  • 61% did not offer any information on the product page regarding in-stock availability
  • (Only) 58% correctly answered an e-mail question within 24 hours
  • 52% of retailers had physical stores; only 10% of all retailers offered in-store pickup of orders
  • 43% offered free shipping
  • 42% provided shipping costs early in the checkout process
  • 35% had a checkout process with more than four steps
  • 33% offered customer reviews

Source: Emarketer

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

Monday, December 3, 2007

Employee Resistance To Using CRM Software is Biggest Hurdle for Companies

A recent survey conducted by Really Simple Systems, a provider of hosted CRM software, revealed that over 80% of respondents regarded employee resistance to using the software as the biggest hurdle they faced when implementing a new system.

The survey questioned 500 users of CRM encompassing SME business owners, directors and sales, marketing and IT managers on their views of the current state of the CRM market and the efficacy of products currently available. Surprisingly, of the users polled, 82.9% of respondents said that getting staff to use the software was the biggest challenge they faced.

Another key finding of the survey revealed that 71.9% of the respondents surveyed said that they would be prepared to trade functionality in their CRM systems for ease of use.

Other findings from the research revealed that:

- 42.9% of respondents use less than half of their existing CRM system's functionality
- 50.5% said that synchronizing data was a major issue
- 67.1% said that finding time to evaluate CRM systems was a major issue

More information can be found at

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Online Consumer-Generated Reviews Have Significant Impact on Offline Purchase Behavior

A new study by comScore, Inc. and the Kelsey Group, of more than 2,000 U.S. Internet users in October 2007, revealed that consumers were willing to pay at least 20 percent more for services receiving an “Excellent,” or 5-star, rating than for the same service receiving a “Good,” or 4-star, rating.

The study examined the offline sales impact of online reviews for restaurants, hotels, travel, legal, medical, automotive and home services. Nearly one out of every four Internet users (24 percent) reported using online reviews prior to paying for a service delivered offline. Of those who consulted an online review, 41 percent of restaurant reviewers subsequently visited a restaurant, while 40 percent of hotel reviewers subsequently stayed at a hotel.

More than three-quarters of review users in nearly every category reported that the review had a significant influence on their purchase, with hotels ranking the highest (87 percent). Ninety-seven percent of those surveyed who said they made a purchase based on an online review said they found the review to have been accurate. Review users also noted that reviews generated by fellow consumers had a greater influence than those generated by professionals.

comScore asked the study participants how much they would be willing to pay for a particular service based on the quality of the service. The results showed that consumers were willing to pay between 20 percent and 99 percent more for an Excellent (5 star) rating than for a Good (4 star rating), depending on the product category.

More information can be found at

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Study Finds Retailers Experience 143 Percent Average Return on Investment Using Click to Call

eStara, a provider of conversion solutions for enhancing online sales and support initiatives, recently commissioned a study, conducted by Forrester Consulting, to evaluate Click to Call’s full impact on sales and internal resources for their organizations. Click to Call allows companies to engage buyers proactively and to transition them seamlessly from the Web to the phone.

To illustrate the financial impact of implementing Click to Call, Forrester conducted a Total Economic Impact study based on in-depth interviews of four organizations using eStara Click to Call, including two Fortune 500 retailers and two multinational financial services companies that have implemented the technology.

The results for retail portion of the study found:

  • A three-year risk-adjusted Click to Call retailer ROI of 143 percent
  • Click to Call increased online revenues by more than $2 million over three year period
  • Retailers experienced payback in 14 months
  • Average conversion rate of Click to Call users was significantly higher than non-users
  • Prospects using Click to Call as the primary means of communication were better informed, and asked more detailed questions in comparison to toll-free callers
  • Companies that deployed Click to Call reduced their operational costs through a reduction in the average volume of non-transactional calls and improvement in duration of customer calls
More information can be found at

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Top Marketing Trends for 2008

The Marketing Executives Networking Group, an almost 1700 member organization of leading marketers who are at a VP-level or above in their organizations, has issued the results of its first annual survey of Top Marketing Trends for 2008. The survey of MENG members, conducted by Anderson Analytics, focused on top marketing concepts, buzz words, global areas of opportunity, targeted customer demographics, as well as the books that marketers look to for inspiration and growth opportunity.

While the marketers weighed in on many marketing concepts a few key areas emerged.

Marketing basics (60 percent “Very Important”) which include specific concepts such as customer satisfaction, customer retention, segmentation, brand loyalty and ROI were of greatest interest. Interestingly, Search Engine Optimization (42 percent) had relatively wide appeal, and cut across marketers in all fields. “Green Marketing” (32 percent) was another important emerging concept and it was identified as the trendiest marketing buzzword.

In regard to Global Issues, China is viewed as the region with the best future opportunity (52 percent); India is a distant second (20 percent). Few marketers saw other regions such as Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Latin America, Brazil, Russia, and Mexico, as comparable opportunities. In terms of another important global issue, Out-Sourcing/Off-Shoring, the majority of marketers (77 percent) reported that their companies do not off-shore any part of the marketing function. Half of senior marketers are not in favor of off-shoring any part of the marketing function, while just under a quarter view it favorably.

When asked about the most important customer demographics senior marketing executives rank Baby Boomers highest with 88 percent ranking them as either very important or somewhat important. What may be surprising is the fact that Gen X (86 percent), Hispanics (86 percent), Women (85 percent) and Gen Y (84 percent) are catching up to Boomers as customer targets.

Senior-level Marketing Executives read avidly to stay abreast of information and gain insights for their business. The most popular books are not necessarily the most recently published given that Good to Great, The World is Flat, and Blink were the top three most recently read books. In terms of all time favorite business book ever read, three in five executives were eager to make a recommendation to their fellow marketers. Topping the list were: Good to Great, Positioning, and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

More information can be found at

Monday, November 26, 2007

Marketers use brands to help holiday shoppers

A handful of marketers are using their brands to help shoppers during the holiday season, when patience is strained and the advertising din is deafening.

Free gift wrapping, chargers for mobile phones, food and beverages, parking-spot reminders, a place to rest — and even restrooms — are some of the perks that brands are using to stand out while retailers ring up an expected $474 billion.

Bank of America on Friday opened a Gift on Fifth store — at 36th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City — in a shopping area where more than 30,000 people pass daily. The 3,500-square-foot, all-glass building is topped with a 2.5-ton steel red bow and wraparound deck with pine trees. It will be open through Dec. 2. Inside: a kids craft area, gift wrapping, hot chocolate, coffee, photos —and the opportunity to sign up for a new version of the classic plastic, a BankAmericard. It's now actually a Visa card with 1.25 points of rewards for every dollar charged.

Other intersections:

• Philips. At Minnesota's giant Mall of America, more than 50 people a day call security to locate the vehicle they left in one of the 12,500 parking spaces. To help head that off for the holidays, Philips Electronics is providing a cellphone text-message service. Philips signs throughout the parking areas, over elevators and in stairwells provide numbers for the parker to text that will result in a message being sent back with the location. Ads inside the mall tout the service as well as Philips gift ideas, such as a Norelco shaver and or Senseo coffeemaker.

• American Express. To bond with customers, the company has opened an American Express Lounge at Natick Collection shopping center in Natick, Mass., and another AmEx lounge is back for a second year at the Mall at Short Hills in Short Hills, N.J. The lounges will be open to card members through mid-December.

Staffed with about a dozen people, they provide sofas, cellphone chargers, e-mail stations, iPod chargers, coat checking, restrooms, gift wrapping and quick gifts. Visitors can purchase gift cards or redeem rewards points for up to 20% less for gifts such as digital cameras or an Xbox 360.

• Illycaffè. Starting Nov. 29 at the fancy new Time Warner Center in New York City, this Italian espresso brand will provide complimentary coffee, gift ideas and a limited selection of gifts for sale. To add to the brand experience — and entertain — Illy will bring its Push Button House.

The brand commissioned the innovative house, designed by architect Adam Kalkin, both as art and to promote sustainability. First shown this summer, it's a fully functional five-room home contained in a standard ocean shipping container. With the push of a button, actuators controlled by a computer hidden in the dining room table open the container in 90 seconds into a kitchen, dining room, bedroom, living area and bath.

• Charmin. If all that coffee has you looking for a restroom, Procter & Gamble's Charmin is at your service for a second year with 20 plush public restrooms in New York's Times Square. With hardwood floor stalls and Kohler sinks and toilets, they'll arrive in the popular shopping area on Monday. The stalls aren't cheap. It was Charmin's second-highest marketing expense last year after TV ads.
Source: USA Today

More information can be found at

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Green Christmas: Survey Says One in Five Consumers Will Purchase More ‘Eco-Friendly" Products This Holiday Season; Many Willing to Pay More

The environment is increasingly on consumers' radar screens, according to the 22nd Annual Holiday Survey of retail spending and trends, commissioned by Deloitte. The survey reports that almost one in five consumers (18 percent) will purchase more “eco-friendly” products this holiday season than in the past, and a similar number (17 percent) will shop at more “green” retailers.

Additionally, almost one-third of consumers (27 percent) surveyed will use fewer plastic bags from supermarkets and other stores this holiday season, and one in five (20 percent) will consider not wrapping holiday gifts to conserve paper. Surprisingly, these responses concerning the environment and holiday shopping intentions were consistent across gender, age and income groups.

How this environmentalism will translate into gift purchases remains to be seen. In the survey, clothing continued its four-year run as the second most popular gift category (gift cards have been #1 for four years); however, the popularity of clothing as a gift has fallen over the past several years, especially among younger groups. Toys, including games, dolls, and computer/video games and consoles, ranked third. CDs/DVDs/tapes and books continued their four-year decline.

The top specifically-named gifts that consumers intend to buy for friends and family included Apple’s iPod, Nintendo’s Wii, Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation. Other top gifts mentioned included recently released video games Halo 3, Guitar Hero III, Barbie and Transformers. Also in the top 10 this year: jewelry and watches, televisions, and experience gifts such as travel, spa services, and tickets for entertainment events.

The survey also found that gift cards/certificates continued to be the #1 gift that consumers plan to buy; the top venues for these gift cards are discount department stores (such as Wal-Mart and Target) and large home improvement stores (such as Home Depot and Lowes).

For those who don't receive gift cards this holiday season, the good news is that the majority of the gifts received will likely be returnable, if needed. The great majority (75 percent) of survey respondents said they prefer to shop at stores that have hassle-free return policies. One-quarter (25 percent) of consumers said that last season they returned or exchanged gifts; they did so 2.4 times.

In addition, almost one-quarter (22 percent) said they re-gifted last holiday season. Women were much more likely to do so than men, as were younger consumers. Those that re-gifted did so an average of 2.8 times.

Almost two-thirds of consumers (63 percent) say they enjoy the experience and spirit of the holidays; however, a similar amount (61 percent) say they avoid holiday shopping crowds – an increase from the 56 percent that said this in 2006.

Consumers said that over-commercialization, rude people/bad manners and crowded stores are the aspects of holiday shopping that they find most frustrating; surprisingly, younger age groups were most likely to cite these frustrations.

Seven in 10 consumers (70 percent) said they would do part of their holiday shopping online, and one in five (19 percent) said they will shop primarily or entirely online this holiday season. Almost half (48 percent) say they like the convenience of shopping with multi-channel retailers – that is, those that have some combination of stores, Web sites and catalogs.

More information can be found at

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Retailers Think Big for Cyber Monday with One-Day Sales as More Americans Shop from Work

This year, Cyber Monday, the ceremonial kickoff to the online holiday shopping season, is expected to be more promotional than ever as retailers offer one-day promotions and special offers to bring holiday shoppers online. On Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, online retailers will be unveiling an array of deals to demonstrate what websites have to offer this holiday season.

According to the eHoliday Survey, conducted this fall by BizRate Research, the majority of online retailers will feature special promotions for Cyber Monday this year. Promotions will range from special email campaigns (32.0%) to specific deals (29.9%) to one-day sales (28.9%). Additionally, one-fourth of retailers (24.7%) will offer free shipping on all purchases. In fact, 72.2 percent of online retailers are planning a special promotion for Cyber Monday, up from 42.7 percent just two years ago.

Cyber Monday, a term coined by in 2005, began after online retailers noticed a trend of people shopping online on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Since then, consumers have flooded websites on Cyber Monday and come to expect robust promotions and specials that day.

Though more than half of U.S. homes have high-speed access, many Americans feel the best place to shop for online gifts is not at the mall, but at the office. This year, according to a BIGresearch survey conducted for, 54.5 percent of office workers with Internet access, or 68.5 million people, will shop for holiday gifts from work, up substantially from 50.7 percent in 2006 and 44.7 percent in 2005.

Though slightly more than half of workers will be shopping from the office, some are more likely to make a dent in their wish lists than others. According to the BIGresearch survey, men are more likely to shop from work than women (57.3% vs. 51.7%) and young adults 18-24 years old are more likely to shop there than any other age group (72.9%). Additionally, consumers in Western states are more likely to shop from the office than those in other regions (56.4%).

In addition to a rise in online sales, the Internet will have a large impact on overall sales this holiday season. According to a BIGresearch survey conducted for, the Internet will influence 30.2 percent of holiday sales this year, up from 28.9 percent last year. The online retail industry has come together again this year to create a collection of the best online offers for Cyber Monday.

At, which launched one year ago, more than 500 retailers will be posting holiday promotions and special savings both on Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday season.

Last year, more than 300,000 people visited on Cyber Monday itself. Traffic to the site was so substantial that Mall Networks has dramatically increased capacity for the site this year.

More information can be found at

Monday, November 19, 2007

"Generation Virtual" Will Have a Profound Influence on Culture, Society and Business

In 10 years, the largest influence on all purchases will be the virtual experience associated with them, according to Gartner, Inc. By 2015, more money will be spent marketing and selling to multiple anonymous online personas than marketing and selling offline. This transition in customer interaction is being driven by Generation Virtual, also known as “Generation V.”

Gartner analysts said Generation V is the recognition that general behavior, attitudes and interests start to blend together in an online environment. The idea of Generation X (and later Generation Y) was conceived as a way to understand new generations that appeared not to have connections to the culture icons of the baby boomers. Marketers use the categories of baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y to segment the population for targeting products and services with a focus on age.

However, as more baby boomers (who are living longer) and the younger generations go online and participate/communicate in a flat virtual environment, the generational distinctions break down. Customers will hop across segments at various times of life for various reasons and are likely to act like several generations at any given time.

For companies, it means access to new economies. For example, by 2030, there will be twice as many people over age 65 in the United States with 70 times the real median income of their corresponding age group in 1990. They will be spending more time online engaging as Generation V members. Companies will have new reach (and access to their growing discretionary income) that they could not get before.

Recommendations to Target Generation V:

  • Companies should organize their products and services around multiple online personas.
  • Sell to the persona, not the person. A persona will show you how it wants to be treated.
  • Create virtual environments as a way to orchestrate customer exploration toward purchases.
  • Shift Investment from known customers to unknown ones. Focus on the influencers within the meritocracy.
  • Develop and retain or outsource new skills to attract, connect, contribute and gain insight from Generation V and its virtual environment
More information can be found at

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The End Of Advertising As We Know It

IBM Global Business Services’ new report, "The End of Advertising as We Know It," forecasts greater disruption for the advertising industry in the next five years than occurred in the previous 50.

To examine the factors influencing advertising and explore future scenarios, IBM surveyed more than 2,400 consumers and 80 advertising executives globally. The IBM report shows increasingly empowered consumers, more self-reliant advertisers and ever-evolving technologies are redefining how advertising is sold, created, consumed and tracked.

Traditional advertising players risk major revenue declines as budgets shift rapidly to new, interactive formats, which are expected to grow at nearly five times that of traditional advertising.

IBM's research found that advertising experts recognize the changing nature of consumers and also anticipate dramatic changes on the horizon. More than half of ad professionals polled by IBM expect that in the next five years open advertising exchanges (currently led by companies like Google, Yahoo, AOL) will take 30 percent of current revenues now commanded by traditional broadcasters and media.

The report indicates by 2012, the landscape of the industry will change so profoundly that to survive, advertising industry players need to take aggressive steps to innovate in three key areas:

· Consumers: making micro-segmentation and personalization paramount in marketing;

· Business models: how and where advertising inventory is sold, the structure and forms of partnerships, revenue models and advertising formats;

· Business design and infrastructure: All players need to redesign organizational and operating capabilities across the advertising lifecycle to support consumer and business model innovation: consumer analytics, channel planning, buying/selling, creation, delivery and impact reporting.

IBM believes that all players will need to invest heavily in consumer analytics and automation to gain more insights about the consumer and how to reach them. For example, interactive advertising paired with consumer analytics provides compelling knowledge of who viewed and acted on an ad rather than estimates of impressions, allowing advertisers to maximize revenue and yield management. Industry players will also need to examine if they have right resources and capacity to handle increased marketing promotions and integrated advertising sales.

Finally, IBM observes that the dramatic increase in both the number and variety of promotions is leading to greater investment in tools to digitally transform and reduce the cost of companies' workflows including content management, creative development, production and sign-off processes.

More information can be found at

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Consumers Slow to Start Holiday Shopping

Retailers who are concerned that holiday sales aren’t living up to expectations needn’t worry: shoppers are off to a slow start. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2007 Holiday Consumer Intentions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, most consumers (71.4 percent) have less than ten percent of their holiday shopping completed. Young adults 18-24 are the least prepared with three-fourths of them (76.2 percent) finished with less than ten percent of their shopping.

According to the survey, debit and check cards will be king again this year with 40.1 percent of shoppers relying on them to make purchases this holiday season, up from 39.1 percent last year.

Additionally, about a third of holiday shoppers (32.3 percent) will primarily use credit cards for holiday purchases. As electronic transactions begin to replace traditional methods of payment, only 5.5 percent of shoppers plan on using their checkbook, and 22.1 percent will use cash.

With unending options, the majority of consumers plan to reach for clothing or clothing accessories (57.2 percent) and books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games (57.1 percent) when purchasing gifts for their loved ones.

Gift cards continue to rank at the top of lists with 56.6 percent of consumers saying they plan on buying gift cards this year.

Other popular items include toys (43.1 percent) and consumer electronic or computer related accessories (29.2 percent).

More information can be found at

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mobility Solutions Not a Priority for Enterprises

A new report by market analyst Datamonitor reveals that growth in the enterprise mobility market has been slower than anticipated. Although there are many planned investments across the surveyed regions and industries, the market is beginning to saturate in some geographic regions. The report ‘Understanding adoption of mobility solutions’ also highlights the fact that mobility solutions are often deployed together as a packaged solution as both investment and penetration levels for mobile management, applications and security are at similar levels. The report expects the largest growth in mobility solutions to come from the healthcare sector.

Datamonitor’s report analyses the results of a survey of 1000 IT decision makers across Europe, North America and Australia to discover their plans for investment in mobility. The report also assesses enterprises’ preferences for mobility procurement and outsourcing. Mobility was discovered to be a low priority for enterprises and out of the eight core enterprise technologies that Datamonitor has included in the survey, it is the least likely to be outsourced.

The survey reveals that growth in the enterprise mobility market has been slow. Penetration for the five technologies assessed, which includes mobile management, applications, security, platforms & integration and Telematics, has only increased 5% across the survey base since 2006.

Mobility is popular in financial industries such as retail banking and the energy/utilities sector and the survey reveals that adoption has been highest amongst these enterprises. This stems from a number of factors including a larger mobile workforce and often greater IT budgets. However, the most growth is likely to be in the healthcare industry where penetration may increase as much as 20% over the next two years.

Only 16% of the surveyed enterprises currently outsource for mobility and this figure has not increased from 2006. From looking at a previous Datamonitor report on enterprises’ technology priorities, it is clear that enterprises are more likely to outsource technologies that have a higher cost and visibility within the organization such as enterprise applications or security. However, mobility outsourcing appears to be more popular in Italian and Spanish enterprises; a much higher proportion of these enterprises currently outsource or would consider it in the next couple of years.
More information can be found at

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Gift Buying is Expected to Hold Steady, Although Consumers Will Spend Less Overall

While many Americans say they intend to spend less during this year’s holiday season, spending on gifts is expected to hold steady and the number of gifts consumers plan to give is up compared with 2006, according to the 22nd Annual Holiday Survey of retail spending and trends, commissioned by Deloitte.

The survey shows that four in 10 consumers (41 percent) expect to reduce their spending this holiday season. Areas where spending is likely to be down include home improvements, socializing/entertaining, charitable donations, home/holiday furnishings and non-gift clothing. However, consumers said they plan to spend about the same on gifts as they did last year, and they expect to buy more of them – an average of 23, up from 22 last year and the highest over the last six years. Women plan to buy even more, with an average of 26 gifts.

As a back-drop to these spending expectations, American consumers are less optimistic about the economy, with only 57 percent of consumers surveyed saying the economy will improve or remain the same next year. However, the vast majority (85 percent) say they feel secure about their jobs, which is about even with last year. Surprisingly, the recent credit crunch was not cited as a primary reason for spending less this year. Lower income households were more likely to cite higher food and fuel costs as the reasons for spending less this year, while those at higher income levels were more likely to cite volatility in the stock market and declining home values.

Department stores – both traditional and discount – continue to be the top shopping destination, reflecting a continued time-pressured consumer, a need for convenience, and a long-term trend of fewer shopping trips and fewer stores visited. In addition, older consumers – those aged 61-74 – plan to spend 27 percent more than the average consumer, giving added credence to this demographic, which traditionally has reported higher holiday spending.

For the fourth straight year, gift cards are expected to be the top gift purchase, with more than two-thirds (69 percent) of consumers surveyed planning to buy them, compared with 66 percent last year. In addition, holiday shoppers are planning to buy even more cards this year: an average of 5.5 cards, compared with the 4.6 cards they planned to buy last year. One in six consumers (16 percent) plan to buy 10 or more cards, compared with 11 percent last year. Consumers are also spending more in total on gift cards and more per card: $36.25 per card on average compared with $30.22 last year.

Gift cards continue to grow in acceptance: Almost four in 10 consumers surveyed (39 percent) would rather get a gift card than merchandise, an increase from last year’s 35 percent. Also, resistance to giving gift cards continues to decline: 19 percent say they don’t like to give gift cards because they’re too impersonal (down from 22 percent last year). Consumers said that the cards are popular gifts for adults, teens and children alike, and almost half (46 percent) intend to buy them for immediate family; however, they are hesitant to buy them for spouses or significant others, with only 14 percent saying they plan to buy them for those recipients.

In the wake of recent product recalls, consumers are increasingly concerned about the safety of imported products, with those over age 44 being most concerned. More than half of consumers surveyed (54 percent) say a product's country of origin is important to them when making a purchase decision. Almost four in 10 consumers (38 percent) said they feel food products imported from other countries are not safe, and more than one-third of consumers (35 percent) said the same for non-food products. Almost six in 10 (58 percent) say the recent news stories about product recalls will influence some of their purchase decisions this holiday season. Of these shoppers, 82 percent say such concerns will influence their buying decisions on toys and 70 percent say the same with respect to food purchases.

More information can be found at

Over Fifty Million Consumers to Pay for Every-day Goods and Services via Mobile Phone by 2011

New forecasts from Juniper Research show that around 52 million consumers will adopt new mobile technologies such as NFC (Near Field Communication) and other physical mobile payment methods to pay for everyday goods and services by 2011. This will help drive the physical mobile payments market to $11.5bn by the same year.

NFC and other physical mobile payments methods will begin to offer consumers a viable alternative both to cash, credit and debit cards supporting their increasingly mobile lifestyles.

The new Juniper Research study found that by 2011, around 12% of the total mobile phones in circulation will offer support for contactless payment, specifically NFC - equating to nearly 470 million NFC-enabled handsets worldwide, thereby providing a significant marketplace for retailers to offer goods via mPayment applications.

Other findings from the report include:

  • Mobile payment applications and services are already available in most regions in variety of formats where they are being adopted in either a trial or commercial mode with favorable user feedback.

  • Industry players (including retailers, handset vendors and the financial community) in the Far East and the US are seen as particularly receptive to the idea of using RFID or NFC to facilitate mobile payments for physical goods and services.

  • Members of the mobile payments value chain must develop a mutually satisfactory, robust business model, guaranteeing revenue to all parties.

  • More information can be found at

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007

    The Role of the Chief Operating Officer Is Transforming Radically in Corporate America

    The position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) in leading corporations is being transformed — not eliminated — according to a report released by The Conference Board, the global research and business membership organization.

    The report — “The Changing Role of the COO: Is the Chief Operating Officer Headed for Transformation or Extinction?” — is based on in-depth interviews with executives from companies representing diverse industries and a literature review. Executives surveyed include heads of human resources, regional heads, COOs, CEOs, heads of business unit, and heads of company research.

    The report finds that the need for and the definition of the COO role is determined by the relationship between the COO and CEO, including their personalities, in the context of the needs of the particular business. A risk assessment of the CEO "going it alone" and internal talent management considerations are also used for determination.

    Some of those interviewed say that the COO position is evolving from the number two spot in a company to a leadership "on demand" role that changes focus with changing business strategy. The report finds that companies — to grow more quickly in an increasingly competitive business world — are becoming flatter, with the CEO now going directly to the heads of lines of the business for answers.

    The position of COO, though born sometime in the 19th century, reached its apex in the 1970s, when more and more prominent firms began adding the position to deal with greater management needs spurred on by increasing diversification.

    Its popularity dwindled in the '80s, but was revived with the growth of the dot-com era, only to fall with the era's demise. Most recent studies indicate that only a small percentage of leading U.S. companies currently employ a COO.

    Because the role of top corporate leadership is evolving, the COO's job is becoming "situational."

    External considerations that affect the COO role include:

  • Strong global, regional, and local competitors.

  • The increased power of customers.

  • Impatient institutional investors.

  • Talented managers who are ambitious and open to opportunities offered by others.

  • Global product overcapacity.

  • Increased regulatory oversight.

  • Relentless pressure to update, or even change, the company's fundamental business model.

  • The most pressing internal considerations are: the reduction of layers of management and emergence of numerous project-based formats; greater levels of investment in the IT infrastructure, which enable enhanced vertical and horizontal operations and communications processes; and an extensive use of alliances along with robust amounts of mergers and acquisition activity.

    The Conference Board report offers a three-step analysis process that companies can use when deciding whether they need a COO:

  • Analyze your company's leadership and general management requirements in the context of your strategy and company culture — including the relationship between the CEO and COO.

  • Consider the central arguments in favor of and against the COO role in terms of your company's immediate goals and longer-term strategy.

  • Assume the COO role is unlikely to add value to the general management of the enterprise and build the strongest case to the contrary.
  • More information can be found at

    Monday, November 5, 2007

    Online shoppers want smooth shopping, free delivery and bargains

    Online shoppers find site search the most useful element of a retail web site by a wide margin, says a new consumer survey from consultants and researchers The E-tailing Group Inc. In fact keyword search, rated “very to most important” by 80% of consumers in the survey, and advanced search functionality, rated so by 67%, were the most highly ranked web site features.Next was product comparison tools, also at 67%, and customer ratings and reviews, at 60%.

    Consumers use such tools frequently in their online shopping, the survey reports. 65% research products online before making gift purchases, 74% typically comparison shop three sites or more before making a purchase, 60% search directly at a favored merchant, and 54% browse multiple online stores before completing a purchase.

    Consumers, no surprise, value bargains: 86% want free shipping and 76% want sales and specials, the E-tailing study reports. And they rank streamlined shopping highly. 69% want a perpetual shopping cart and 60% want one-page checkout.

    What The E-tailing Group dubs “gifting tools” also are growing in importance to online shoppers. 47% want to be able to buy gift cards online vs. 43% a year ago; 41% want to send the different elements of a purchase to different addresses vs. 33% a year ago; and 31% want to create wish lists vs. 26% a year ago.

    The survey of 1,500 online consumers who responded to an online questionnaire, also showed:

    • 68% plan to spend about the same as last year;

    • 44% anticipate spending in the $100-$500 range; 44% over $500;

    • 53% intend to purchase 16 or more gifts;

    • 74% expect to purchase about the same number of gifts online as last year.

    The questionnaire, conducted by The E-tailing Group in October 2007 in conjunction with StartSampling, also asked consumers to name positive or negative experiences about shopping online. As positives, consumers cited free shipping and bargains; as negatives, high shipping costs or other shipping problems, return problems and out-of-stocks. But on a bright note, the E-tailing Group reported that more than half said they had had too many good experiences to name one or had not experienced anything too terrible while shopping online.

    More information can be found at

    Thursday, November 1, 2007

    Customer Relationship Management Applications Set to Double in Value

    As the increasing number or organizations understand the importance of positive customer experiences and strong customer relationships, the market for customer relationship management (CRM) applications continues to expand. In 2006, the global CRM software market was worth just under US$3.6bn in license revenue alone. In a new report, independent market analyst Datamonitor predicts this will reach US$6.6bn by year end 2012, growing by a compound annual growth rate of 10.5%. The report, “Economic Outlook: Customer Relationship Management”, attributes growth to increasing deployment of CRM in new vertical segments as well as new flexibility in modes of deployment. Nevertheless, within the next 18 months Datamonitor expects on-demand CRM specialists to come under pressure as the CRM arena becomes substantially more competitive.

    Reliance on subscription revenues and service capabilities will mean that the Telecommunications industry will continue to be the heaviest investor in CRM technologies along with Energy and Utilities and Financial Services. However, Datamonitor expects CRM investment by the Healthcare, Public Sector and Life Sciences to exceed the rate of growth in the Telecommunications sector, fuelled by the adoption of a customer-oriented approach to public sector services and the relative success of applications supporting a relational, not transactional, approach to customers.

    The composition of the CRM market is also changing in terms of the typical size of enterprise deploying CRM. Once a preserve of the very large organizations, Datamonitor estimates that in 2006 CRM application spending by enterprises with less than 1000 employees accounted for one third of all licenses sold. By 2012, however, the sector will account for over 42% of the market.

    On-demand relieves businesses of the maintenance and daily technical operations of software, offering companies the choice to let someone else host their applications for them. Datamonitor considers on-demand as an important element of CRM strategy since subscription-based licensing and hosted architecture can address many inhibitors to CRM adoption.

    Recent success of on-demand CRM providers, as well as the fact that most of the major vendors are having some on-demand strategy means that this innovative paradigm is clearly here to stay. Datamonitor estimates that by year end 2007, the global on-demand CRM market will be worth US$1bn, and such applications will drive CRM adoption, particularly within SMEs.

    Nevertheless, within the next 18 months the market will be substantially more competitive. Established on-demand CRM specialists will find themselves under increased pressure both from smaller hosted solution providers and established on-premise vendors offering on-demand versions. The implications are that subscription prices could decrease, particularly among the less differentiated entry-level solutions.

    More information can be found at

    Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    European Online Holiday Retail Sales To Hit €51 Billion

    Net users in Europe will spend a projected €51 billion ($71 billion US dollars) online during the Christmas season this year, according to Forrester Research, Inc. For the full year 2007, Forrester projects European online retail to grow 58 percent year-over-year. Forrester’s holiday forecast covers 17 Western European countries and 22 retail categories, and draws upon its European Consumer Technographics survey as well as data from the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) for the UK.

    Among the findings of this year's survey:

  • Consumers in the UK, Sweden, and Germany shop online far above the European average, with around 70 percent of Net users shopping online in those three countries. In Italy and Spain, the percentage of consumers making an online purchase is closer to 30 percent.

  • The largest online retail market is the UK with 27 million online shoppers expected to spend more than €700 each during the holiday shopping season — accounting for a record-breaking €20 billion in online sales. Germany’s online shopping spend has grown to €12 billion, followed by €6.5 billion in France, Italy with €2.1 billion, and the Netherlands with €1.9 billion.

  • The top three categories this year are leisure travel, clothing, and consumer electronics, which will account for over half of the Christmas season’s online spend.

  • More information can be found at

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    Survey Reveals Disconnect in Social Media Marketing Programs

    According to a new survey by Coremetrics, social media marketing is quickly gaining popularity as a way to gain competitive edge. However, the survey also revealed that time and budget allocations are not yet reflective of this trend.

    The study found that the use of Web 2.0 or social media marketing tools, defined as user generated content (including reviews), RSS feeds, podcasts and wikis are becoming more important parts of a complete online marketing program. While most marketers recognize this trend, and are eager to participate, very few have budgets that are in line with that objective.

    The findings included the following:

    A clear disconnect between the desirability of social marketing and the budget allocated to it:

  • 78% of respondents see social media marketing as a way to gain competitive edge, but only 7.75% of total online marketing spend is devoted to it.

  • This compares with an average of 33% of spend going to online advertising and 28% to online promotion design and implementation

  • However, progress is being made in the field:

  • 58% of respondents have implemented user generated content or reviews in the past year

  • 31% of respondents have implemented a blog in the past year

  • 25% of respondents have implemented an RSS feed in the past year

  • The findings showed that most marketers have concrete plans to implement a social media marketing program at some point, even if not within the next twelve months. Of those marketers, the majority recognize the need to implement or improve their social marketing programs, but cite a lack of tools and expertise as their biggest challenges.

  • 50% of respondents plan to implement user generated content or reviews

  • 22% of respondents plan to implement a blog

  • 20% intend to implement social networks, and another 20% plan to implement an RSS feed

  • It is not just social marketing activity objectives that are misaligned with time and budget allocation:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was ranked as the #1 priority over nine other choices, including email campaigns and online analytics, but ranked only fourth in terms of both time and budget allocation

  • Email campaigns continue to demand most of a marketer's time (22% on average), while the biggest portion of budgets (33% on average) go to online advertising. This is despite the fact that SEO was consistently ranked as the #1 priority

  • Online promotion design and implementation was ranked as relatively unimportant, (#5 of 9) but comes in third in terms of both time and budget allocation, ahead of SEO, online campaign analytics and email marketing programs, among others

  • More information can be found at

    Monday, October 29, 2007

    Study Finds the World's Leading Corporate Innovators Stepped Up R&D Spending in 2006

    Booz Allen Hamilton’s third annual analysis of the world’s 1,000 largest corporate R&D spenders, finds that these corporations increased their R&D investment last year by twice the dollar amount of 2005’s R&D spending rise. For the first time in four years, the pace of R&D spending in 2006 caught up to the rate of sales growth among these companies. North American headquartered companies led the way with the largest increase in absolute spending; R&D investment in emerging markets continues to grow rapidly, but remains a relatively small percentage of the global total.

    Booz Allen also identified three distinct corporate innovation strategies, but concluded that the most significant performance differences lay not in which innovation strategy was used, but in how tightly it was aligned with overall corporate strategy. Companies that get the greatest return from their R&D investment also attributed much of their success to their focus on customer insight throughout the innovation process. In fact, companies that emphasize direct customer engagement reported three times higher operating income growth, 65% higher total shareholder return, and two times greater return on assets than companies less focused on customer feedback.

    R&D spending caught up to sales growth in 2006. R&D spending by the Global Innovation 1000 rose last year by $40 billion to $447 billion, a 10% increase. The gain is double the group’s five-year compound annual growth rate and an amount more than twice the 2006 Gross Domestic Product of the Republic of Ireland. And for the first time in four years, the ratio of R&D-to-sales leveled off, ending a sustained four-year decline, with R&D spend matching sales growth (which was also 10%)

    Companies headquartered in North America increased their absolute R&D spending by 13%, representing the largest source of dollar growth among the Global Innovation 1000. North American headquartered firms sustained their lead in innovation spending, having increased their absolute R&D spending by $21 billion in 2006, as compared with China and India which increased spending by only $400 million during the same period. Companies headquartered in China, India and the rest of the developing world represent just 5% of overall corporate spending on R&D in 2006, but their five-year average growth rate suggests a desire to catch up quickly. China and India grew their 2006 spend by 25.7% over last year, in keeping with a five-year average rate of growth of 25%.

    Most companies adopt one of three strategies for effective innovation. Booz Allen identified three distinct corporate innovation strategies, through analysis of a subset of this year’s 1,000 top R&D spenders, surveys and follow-up interviews with C-level executives. However, no one of these three strategies consistently outperforms the others:

    Need Seekers — Actively engage current and potential customers to shape new products, services and processes, and strive to be first-to-market with those products. The DeWalt division of Black & Decker, for example, stresses engagement with customers, and grew its U.S. power tools business from $150 million to more than $2 billion, increasing market share from the teens to 50%. DeWalt’s engineers and marketing product managers regularly visit homebuilding job sites to study building trends and their impact on the company’s products.

    Market Readers — Watch their markets carefully, but prefer to maintain a more cautious approach, focusing largely on driving value through incremental change. Plantronics, a maker of headsets and other audio equipment, closely follows technological and user trends in both the commercial and consumer market, creating strategic partnerships with its major corporate customers and relying on a set of strategic filters, such as potential return of investment and sales forecasts, to determine what products to bring to market.

    Technology Drivers — generate product ideas by deploying their technological skill and relying on unarticulated customer needs for product inspiration, rather than following the market or direct customer input, to drive both breakthrough innovation and incremental change. Siemens, the German engineering and electronics leader, aligns its long-term innovation portfolio around certain megatrends, such as the rise of personalized healthcare.

    Companies that more closely align their innovation model with their corporate strategy perform better. Companies that align their corporate and innovation strategies have superior financial performance, with 40% higher operating income growth and twice the shareholder returns over the last three years than companies with strategies that are less well-aligned.

    More than 11% of companies are High-Leverage Innovators. Compared with others in their industries, 118 of the 1,000 companies studied consistently outperformed their peers over the entire five-year period, while simultaneously spending less on R&D as a percentage of sales than their industry median, marking a more than 25% increase in the number of companies that earned recognition in this category compared to last year.

    These High-Leverage Innovators attribute much of their success to their focus on the entire innovation value chain, from generating new ideas, to product development, to marketing. All appeared to work hard to make sure their innovation strategies were closely aligned to overall corporate strategy. And all shared a focus on the customer, and the processes they employed to maintain their customer focus throughout the innovation value chain.

    More information can be found at

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    Asia Pacific Customer Relationship Management Software Market Set to Grow by 16.8 Percent Annually to 2011

    As enterprises continue to invest in front-office applications, customer relationship management (CRM) software revenue in Asia Pacific is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.8 percent from 2006 to 2011, according to Gartner, Inc. With Australia leading adoption in Asia Pacific with 42.8 percent of the region’s CRM market in 2006, growth will continue to be buoyant in this market, with a forecast CAGR of 15.5 percent to 2011.

    The strong performance of the CRM software market across Asia Pacific is being fueled by growth across all subsegments and in particular marketing which accounted for 23.5 percent share of CRM software revenue. Unlike the U.S., where the explosive growth of software as a service (SaaS) solutions has driven demand, the Asia Pacific region is still driven by more traditional deployment of CRM applications.

    Despite this, the continuous push of on-demand solutions and market consolidation will continue to stimulate growth. In Australia, the mature IT infrastructure and strong vendor sales and channel infrastructure, as well as the availability of integration and support services, will ensure continued market penetration.

    More information can be found at

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    New Study Reveals Behavior of CRM Users

    A recent survey of 1000 B2B sales organizations using the CRM platform reveals some interesting data on their behavior when using CRM.

    Key highlights from the CRM User Behavior study include:

  • 67% of users continuously seek shortcuts to complete a task.

  • Frequent CRM logins directly correlate to improved task times.

  • Workflow automation significantly increases sales when utilized.

  • Utilizing Leads Web Capture Tools generates more deals.

  • Only 32% of sales organizations utilize Proposal and Quote Management within CRM.

  • Only 39% of sales people fully use CRM to their advantage.

  • 1 of 3 sales people use Events and Tasks religiously.

  • Only 19% of users attempt to build custom reports.

  • Formal CRM training increases adoption of CRM.

  • 46% of users re-click on a link if load-time is over 2-3 seconds.

  • 71% of users prefer the integrated email client over MS Outlook, when available.

  • 36% of sales users complete more tasks on time when using Real Time Alerts.

  • 68% of administrators don't utilize a sandbox when customizing CRM.

  • Organizations with highest user adoption rates frequently customize their CRM.

  • Service Organizations that use Self Service Portal and Knowledge Base close cases 18% faster, on average.

  • Utilization of Real Time Alerts closes cases 24% faster, on average.

  • Organizations who fully adopted CRM, close deals 36% faster, on average.

  • Ajax notes facilitate 61% more data entry compared with regular post style notes.

  • More information can be found at

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Personalization More Important Than Ever

    As customers -- especially younger ones -- come to expect rich and personalized online experiences in their leisure hours, they will expect it of their services and solutions providers as well. Findings from ITSMA’s recent survey, How Customers Choose, demonstrate that personalization is a factor in the degree to which customers value the emerging digital media offerings from their B2B providers. Though many of these tools are crude and experience and expertise in deploying some of them are limited, marketers who don’t personalize their marketing will miss out on an opportunity to reach customers more directly -- and with lower costs -- than more traditional marketing vehicles offer.

    Perhaps the clearest evidence of customers’ hunger for more personalized information from providers is their clear rejection of traditional, undifferentiated one-to-many communications. Of the 346 technology buyers surveyed by ITSMA, 83% said they no longer read unsolicited e-mail. Okay, so maybe that’s not very surprising. But here’s where personalization plays into the picture: Asked if they would read unsolicited marketing materials that contain ideas that might be relevant to their businesses, such as success stories, research reports, and Webinar invitations, 75% said they would.

    Now, here’s the interesting part: Asked if they would pay attention to these marketing materials even if they were from solution providers they had not previously done business with, a whopping 92% said they’d take a look. Think you can take your loyal customers for granted by giving them generic marketing campaigns? Think again.

    Today, email is the dominant channel for delivering personalized digital marketing strategies, mostly because it’s relatively simple to automate the campaigns. But personalized Websites (a.k.a. microsites) and customized landing pages for customer -- both of which have much more potential to build and maintain customer relationships -- are gaining momentum. They are held back by the relative lack of tools for automating the process, though such tools are becoming available.

    It’s important to begin experimenting with online personalization, because one day, online interactions are going to approach the kind of intimacy and value of in-person executive meetings -- at a fraction of the cost. But even today, customers are increasingly looking to the Web to make their purchasing decisions, and when they do, you need to make sure they find exactly what they are looking for.

    More information can be found at

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    Why Hosted CRM Implementations Fail

    CRM implementations have suffered through a spotty history since the mid 1990s. Everyone has heard the countless stories of CRM implementation failures — and the unfortunate people that were removed from their organizations as part of the downfall. This most recent survey conducted by CRM Landmark attempted to discover the frequency and causes of this long-standing issue with regard to the SaaS CRM market.

    The CRM implementation failure survey conclusions are as follows:

  • Presumably due to smaller and/or more phased and piecemeal implementations, the frequency and effects of hosted CRM failures are somewhat less than their client/server CRM predecessors.

  • A key factor in historical CRM failures - user adoption - seems to be less of a factor with hosted CRM implementations. Nonetheless, change management plays a critical role during any implementation.

  • Primary factors related to hosted CRM implementation failures included a lack of project management during the implementation, lack of executive sponsorship, resistance to change (including hidden agendas), immature product solutions and a failure to clearly define the project objectives, business requirements and critical success factors.

  • Possibly the most notable project failure factor and one that represents a change from the prior era of CRM applications is the decreased citing of user adoption as a key challenge during the implementation process. While an initial inference would suggest that the hosted CRM applications have de-emphasized user adoption challenges as they are simpler or easier to use than their client/server predecessors, further analysis also reminds us that the scope and depth of hosted CRM applications often does not yet match that of prior periods. The media attention surrounding user adoption has also brought this issue to the mainstream which has undoubtedly resulted in better implementation planning and execution.

    More information can be found at

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    2007 Online Holiday Retail Sales To Hit $33 Billion

    US online retail sales this holiday season will reach $33 billion, a 21 percent increase over last year, according to a recent Forrester Research, Inc. survey of 2,500 online consumers.

    Among the findings of this year's survey:

  • Apparel and accessories will top holiday shopping lists — 80 percent of respondents said that they would purchase something in this category online during the upcoming holiday season.

  • A majority of consumers have a continued interest in free shipping promotions — 61 percent of online consumers said that they are more likely to shop online with a retailer that offers free shipping.

  • Fewer consumers are willing to pay for "frills" like gift wrap or overnight delivery this year — only 26 percent of consumers said they would pay for expedited delivery prior to the holiday season, down from 45 percent who said they would do so in 2006.

  • Gift cards promise to be a big winner during the 2007 holiday season — 18 percent of online consumers said that they plan to spend more on gift cards this year, compared with last year.

  • More information can be found at

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    CRM Growth and Competition on the Upswing

    Sales Managers, under pressure to do more with the same or less resources are increasingly upgrading existing CRM systems or turning to CRM for the first time to remain competitive according to a recent survey of Sales, Marketing and IT Executives. The study, performed by T.H.G. Sales Automation in partnership with Microsoft Corporation was conducted from June through August by the market research arm of Kensingtonhouse Ltd.

    Interviews that targeted a population of over 20,000 large, mid-sized and small firms revealed that 4 out of 10 firms (42%) currently use CRM systems to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their sales staff. In addition, 13% are either currently in the process of implementing or have recently implemented or upgraded a CRM System.

    In terms of market activity, nearly 1 company in 4 indicated that they were either buying or investigating either a new CRM system or an upgrade over the next six to twelve months.

    The study showed a large and diverse array of brands competing for the business with over 30 providers mentioned. However, the 80/20 rule was in effect with the top 7 brands controlling 81% of the market.

    Historically, convincing the salesforce to actually use a CRM tool has been one of the most serious hurdles in achieving the promise of Return on Investment. The current data however shows a marked increase in adoption rates with 3 out of 4 respondents indicating usage rates in the 75% - 100% range.

    When asked about their opinion as to the future direction of how companies will access CRM capability, Web based delivery was the big winner, with over half (55%) of the respondents indicating that On-Demand would be the delivery system of the future. Only 14% picked On-Premise, with the remaining 31% undecided.

    The leading Reasons cited for choosing On-Demand were the “General Trend toward Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) and Web Based Delivery” at 31%; “Ease of Access and Flexibility” at 27% with “Lower Cost” coming in at 19%.

    The main reasons to choose On-Premise included “IT Control and Ease of Management” at 70%, “Security” at 50% and “Superior Integration Capability” at 20%.

    More information can be found at

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    US Interactive Marketing Spending To Reach $61 Billion By 2012

    Interactive marketing spending in the US will more than triple over the next five years, reaching $61 billion by 2012, according to a new Forrester Research, Inc. report. Forrester expects that a maturing perspective about interactive channels coupled with technology advances will eventually lead to interactive technologies infusing all marketing efforts, and the interactive marketing organization will dissolve.

    The growth in interactive marketing spending represents a 27 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years. Interactive marketing — which currently comprises 8 percent of all ad spending — will grow to 18 percent of total ad budgets in five years.

    Forrester's breakdown of spending includes the following:

  • Search marketing will triple in five years. Mainstream marketers' aggressive use of search marketing will grow the category at a CAGR of 26 percent to $25 billion by 2012 due to the increasing costs of paid search, additional spending on optimization tools and services, and international expansion.

  • Display advertising will reach $14 billion by 2012. Display ads will be a key factor in the interactive marketing budget by having an essential supporting role for all interactive campaigns.

  • Services and integration — not volume — will drive email marketing growth. Spending will focus on improving email relevancy with analytics and data management, and will grow to more than $4 billion by 2012.

  • Online video ads will significantly increase. Growing consumer adoption of online video will result in a dramatic 72 percent increase in online video ad spending to $7.1 billion by 2012. More customer-centric online video applications will increase the medium's appeal for consumers and marketers.

  • Social media will drive emerging channels to $10 billion by 2012. Mainstream adoption will boost spending in emerging channels such as social media, mobile, game marketing, widgets, podcasts, and RSS. Spending on social media alone will grow to $6.9 billion as marketers understand how to use and measure this channel.

  • Mobile marketing will grow to $2.8 billion. As consumers become increasingly tied to personal computing handsets, they'll want to extend their mobile utility to accommodate transactions. This transition will drive mobile marketing to grow to $2.8 billion by 2012.

  • More information can be found at

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Be Part of Our Trends in Customer Relationship Management Survey is conducting a benchmark study on the current state of and future direction of customer relationship management (CRM) in organizations today. The questions were designed to capture important information related to budgets, vendors, in-house vs. hosted solutions, the impact of CRM on the organization and more.

    We recognize your time is valuable so we have kept the survey questions quick and concise. In addition, as a participant, you will receive a complimentary copy of the executive summary.
    We will not share your contact information with any third party and responses will only be published in aggregate.

    Your response is requested by October 19, 2007.

    Click Here to Participate!

    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2008

    Gartner, Inc. analysts recently highlighted the top 10 technologies and trends that will be strategic for most organizations. Gartner defines a strategic technology as one with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar investment, or the risk of being late to adopt. The top 10 strategic technologies for 2008 include:

    Green IT. The focus of Green IT that came to the forefront in 2007 will accelerate and expand in 2008. Consider potential regulations and have alternative plans for data center and capacity growth. Regulations are multiplying and have the potential to seriously constrain companies in building data centers, as the impact on power grids, carbon emissions from increased use and other environmental impacts are under scrutiny. Some companies are emphasizing their social responsibility behavior, which might result in vendor preferences and policies that affect IT decisions.

    Social Software. Through 2010, the enterprise Web 2.0 product environment will experience considerable flux with continued product innovation and new entrants, including start-ups, large vendors and traditional collaboration vendors. Expect significant consolidation as competitors strive to deliver robust Web 2.0 offerings to the enterprise. Nevertheless social software technologies will increasingly be brought into the enterprise to augment traditional collaboration.

    Unified Communications. Today, 20 percent of the installed base with PBX has migrated to IP telephony, but more than 80 percent are already doing trials of some form. Gartner analysts expect the next three years to be the point at which the majority of companies implement this, the first major change in voice communications since the digital PBX and cellular phone changes in the 1970s and 1980s.

    Business Process Modeling. Top-level process services must be defined jointly by a set of roles (which include enterprise architects, senior developers, process architects and/or process analysts). Some of those roles sit in a service oriented architecture center of excellence, some in a process center of excellence and some in both. The strategic imperative for 2008 is to bring these groups together. Gartner expects BPM suites to fill a critical role as a compliment to SOA development.

    Virtualization 2.0. Virtualization technologies can improve IT resource utilization and increase the flexibility needed to adapt to changing requirements and workloads. However, by themselves, virtualization technologies are simply enablers that help broader improvements in infrastructure cost reduction, flexibility and resiliency. With the addition of automation technologies – with service-level, policy-based active management – resource efficiency can improve dramatically, flexibility can become automatic based on requirements, and services can be managed holistically, ensuring high levels of resiliency.

    Mashup & Composite Apps. By 2010, Web mashups will be the dominant model (80 percent) for the creation of composite enterprise applications. Mashup technologies will evolve significantly over the next five years, and application leaders must take this evolution into account when evaluating the impact of mashups and in formulating an enterprise mashup strategy.

    Web Platform & WOA. Software as a service (SaaS) is becoming a viable option in more markets and companies must evaluate where service based delivery may provide value in 2008-2010. Meanwhile Web platforms are emerging which provide service-based access to infrastructure services, information, applications, and business processes through Web based “cloud computing” environments. Companies must also look beyond SaaS to examine how Web platforms will impact their business in 3-5 years.

    Real World Web. The term “real world Web” is informal, referring to places where information from the Web is applied to the particular location, activity or context in the real world. It is intended to augment the reality that a user faces, not to replace it as in virtual worlds. It is used in real-time based on the real world situation, not prepared in advance for consumption at specific times or researched after the events have occurred. For example in navigation, a printed list of directions from the Web do not react to changes, but a GPS navigation unit provides real-time directions that react to events and movements; the latter case is akin to the real-world Web of augmented reality.

    Metadata Management. Through 2010, organizations implementing both customer data integration and product integration and product information management will link these master data management initiatives as part of an overall enterprise information management (EIM) strategy. Metadata management is a critical part of a company’s information infrastructure. It enables optimization, abstraction and semantic reconciliation of metadata to support reuse, consistency, integrity and shareability.

    Computing Fabric. A computing fabric is the evolution of server design beyond the interim stage, blade servers, that exists today. The next step in this progression is the introduction of technology to allow several blades to be merged operationally over the fabric, operating as a larger single system image that is the sum of the components from those blades. The fabric-based server of the future will treat memory, processors, and I/O cards as components in a pool, combining and recombining them into particular arrangements to suits the owner’s needs.

    More information can be found at