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

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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