Monday, March 30, 2009

Report says online crime surging in recession

Fraud on the Internet reported to U.S. authorities increased by 33 percent last year, rising for the first time in three years, and is surging this year as the recession deepens, federal authorities said.

Internet fraud losses reported in the United States reached a record high $264.6 million in 2008, according to a report released on Monday from the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, run by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.

Online scams originating from across the globe -- mostly from the United States, Canada, Britain, Nigeria and China -- are gathering steam this year with a nearly 50 percent increase in complaints reported to U.S. authorities in March alone.

Last year's losses compared with $239.1 million in 2007 and dwarfs the $18 million of losses of 2001. The most common complaint of 2008 was non-delivery of promised merchandise, followed by auction fraud, credit card fraud and investment scams, according to the report.

Scammers in the United States comprised 66 percent of complaints referred to authorities, followed by Britain at 11 percent, Nigeria 7.5 percent, Canada 3 percent and China 1.6 percent.

Within the United States, the bulk originated in California (16 percent), followed by New York and Florida. Fraudulent sales on online auction sites like eBay Inc and classified sites like contributed to a 32 percent rise in the hottest area of online fraud -- non-delivery of promised merchandise, the report said.

That area alone made up about 33 percent of all complaints serious enough to be referred to law enforcement.

Other important areas included investment scams such as mini-versions of the $65 billion Ponzi scheme committed by New York financier Bernard Madoff in which money from new investors is used to pay existing investors.

About 74 percent of the scams were through e-mail messages last year, especially spam, while about 29 percent used websites. But criminals were increasingly tapping new technologies such as social networking sites and instant messenger services, said Kane.

The report highlights one new "significant' identity-theft scam involving e-mail messages that give the appearance of originating from the FBI but seek bank account information to help in investigations of money being transferred to Nigeria. Recipients of the e-mails are told they could be richly rewarded by cooperating.

The report said almost 80 percent of known perpetrators of online scams are male. Of those bringing complaints, nearly half are between the ages of 30 and 50. The median dollar loss was $931 per complaint, although the median losses for check fraud reached $3,000 and that for investment scams was $2,000.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Four Ways Enterprises Are Using Twitter

As businesses struggle to consider the uses of microblogging platforms such as Twitter in the workplace, Gartner, Inc. has highlighted the four ways in which organizations are using Twitter.

Twitter allows users to post short, 140 character updates, on what they are doing right now. Users distribute quick thoughts, news and ideas, and this broadcast element of Twitter has led this type of service to be called microblogging, as each individual message (called a "tweet") can be considered a very small blog post. Users select other "Twitterers" to follow or receive their messages in close to real time.

Gartner analysts predict that by 2011, enterprise microblogging will be a standard feature of 80 percent of social software platforms on the market. While other consumer microblogging platforms exist (such as Plurk, Jaiku, and, Twitter is the most popular.

Twitter is primarily aimed at individuals, so it is not imperative for every corporation to be actively participating at an official level. However, the popular impact of microblogging is leading many companies to explore how they could use it. In addition to the individual use of Twitter, Gartner has identified four different ways in which companies are making use of the Twitter application: direct, indirect, internal, and signaling.

Direct — The company uses Twitter as a marketing or public relations channel
Many companies have established Twitter identities as part of their corporate communications strategies, much like corporate blogs. They Tweet about corporate accomplishments, distributing links to press releases or promotional Web sites, and respond to other Twitterers' comments about the brand. Gartner maintains that this approach should be used with caution because uninteresting or self-serving Tweets could hinder the brand image as much as it could help. Responding to comments can be particularly risky, as the anonymous nature of Twitter can easily descend into a negative spiral. Gartner recommends that at a minimum, companies should register Twitter IDs for their major brand names to prevent others claiming them and using them inappropriately.

Indirect — The company's employees use Twitter to enhance and extend their personal reputations, thereby enhancing the company's reputation
Good Twitterers enhance their personal reputation by saying clever, interesting things, attracting many followers who go on to read their blogs. As people enhance their personal brands, some of this inevitably rubs off on their employers. Twitter provides a way of raising the profile of both individuals and the organizations they work for, which elevates these companies that want to be seen to employ influential leaders.

Internal — Employees use the platform to communicate about what they are doing, projects they are working on and ideas that occur to them
In most cases, Gartner does not recommend using Twitter or any other consumer microblogging service in this way, because there is no guarantee of security. It is crucial that employees understand the limitations of the platform and never discuss confidential matters, because as a seemingly innocuous Tweet about going to see a particular client can tip off a competitor. Other providers, such as Yammer and, provide Twitter-like functions targeted at enterprise microblogging with more security and corporate control.

Inbound Signaling
Twitter streams provide a rich source of information about what customers, competitors and others are saying about a company. Search tools like or the twhirl application can scan for references to particular company or product names. Savvy companies use these signals to get early warnings of problems and collect feedback about product issues and new product ideas.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Enterprise Mobility is Increasing Despite the Economic Downturn

Aberdeen Group has released an industry benchmark report on enterprise mobility that reveals that the business demand for mobility has remained steady, despite the fact that the global economic downturn has caused businesses to reduce costs wherever possible.

The benchmark report shows that companies continue to maintain or increase their level of mobility support, with Best-in-Class companies increasing their mobility budgets year-over-year as a percentage of total IT spend by 27.4%, proving how important mobility has become to delivering greater productivity and workforce effectiveness.

This study reports how Best-in-Class companies -- those that are performing in the top 20% across multiple metrics -- have found additional efficiencies through consolidated central device management and security, judicious and selective outsourcing of some support functions, and driving compliance to IT standards for mobile devices, whether enterprise- or employee-procured.

So entrenched, in fact, that between 2006 and 2009, those companies with current mobility initiatives in place rose from 59% to 84%, while those with no plans decreased from 19% to just over 1%.

Mobility’s importance is only increasing in importance as a younger demographic enters the workplace. It is also becoming the convergence point for new information and data distribution services, including Unified Communications, mobile Software-as-a-Service (mSaaS), and the truly mobile Internet.

More information on CRM can be found at

Monday, March 16, 2009

Marketers Bank on Social Media to Attract and Retain Profitable Customers

How can marketers trapped in a vortex of plunging consumer demand and growing budgetary constraints that has made it necessary to curtail or completely eliminate investments in traditional marketing channels and programs hope to attract, retain and increase the value of profitable customers? At least part of the answer lies in harnessing the power of social media marketing to encourage customer advocacy, according to research by Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company.

A new benchmark report, called “The ROI on Social Media Marketing: Why It Pays to Drive Word of Mouth,” reveals that 68% of Best-in-Class companies are revising their marketing budgets for 2009 to increase their spending in social media marketing. Based on survey responses from more than 275 diverse enterprises, the report places particular emphasis on how Best-in-Class companies launch successful viral campaigns, form and participate in niche communities, and spur customer advocacy through various other approaches to social media marketing all the while gleaning valuable customer insights from consumer-generated content to inform future marketing actions. Despite the seemingly obvious benefits, Aberdeen research reveals that the investment in social media marketing is not always easy to justify in terms of financial outcomes. In fact, over half of all companies indicated that it was either somewhat difficult (39%) or very difficult (20%) to make the business case for investing in social media marketing initiatives, partly due to a lack of defined performance metrics and the challenge of applying those metrics to track and measure marketing performance in terms of financial outcomes.

Aberdeen research suggests that when it comes to social media marketing, achieving the desired objectives means more than just deploying the right set of enabling technologies. Success in social media marketing also requires a combination of strategic actions and organizational capabilities. Aberdeen found that Best-in-Class companies are twice as likely as Laggards to have dedicated resources devoted to social media marketing, for example, and also more than twice as likely as Laggards to have defined performance metrics for measuring social media marketing effectiveness.

More information on CRM can be found at

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Financial Impact of Word of Mouth in Wireless Industry

Satmetrix has released a study that examines the financial impact of positive and negative word of mouth. The study is the third in a series and highlights the business-to-consumer wireless industry. Satmetrix developed the Net Promoter Economic Framework, which determines total customer value based on buyer and referral behaviors of "Promoters" (those who are highly likely to recommend a company and/or its products) and "Detractors" (those who are unlikely to recommend a company and/or products). Buyer economics refers to how much a customer spends over a given period of time, while referral economics refers to the amount of new business that is gained or lost as a function of what the customer tells others about their experience.

Applying this framework to the wireless industry in the study, Net Promoter Economics: The Impact of Word of Mouth, Satmetrix discovered that each Promoter was worth approximately $1,700 and accounted for roughly one-half of a new customer acquired through positive word of mouth. In comparison, each Detractor accounted for the loss of 1.3 new customers through negative word of mouth. The lost business associated with their negative referrals subtracts the entire value of their purchase behavior and then some, creating a net cost of $300. Compared with the value of a Promoter, each Detractor is worth $2,000 less than a Promoter.

The impact of word of mouth is clear when comparing Verizon and Sprint-Nextel. Within the wireless industry, Net Promoter is a strong indicator of referral behavior and Verizon, the loyalty leader, enjoys a high rate of positive word of mouth. What's more, while Verizon loses roughly one potential customer for each Detractor within its customer base, each Sprint-Nextel Detractor costs the company two new customers.
More information on CRM can be found at

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Time People Spend Communicating Online Has Increased 18 Percent

A new report from Netpop Research, provides important insights into social media trends among U.S broadband users, informing companies of the new consumer media habits shaping businesses today. Key findings include:

-- The percent of time people spend communicating online has increased 18 percent since 2006, while time spent on entertainment had declined 29 percent

-- 105 million Americans contribute to social media

-- Social networking has grown 93 percent since 2006

-- 7 million Americans are “heavy” social media contributors (6+ activities) who connect with

-- 248 people on a ‘one to many’ basis in a typical week

-- 54 percent of micro-bloggers post or “tweet” daily

-- 72 percent of micro-bloggers under age 18 post or “tweet” daily


-- The impact of social media is just beginning. Market trends and customer opinion are being shaped by end users more rapidly and with greater impact on business than ever before

-- Online entertainment is shifting as an entirely new form of leisure develops around talking and sharing, providing opinions and perspectives

-- A small but powerful proportion of social media contributors are fueling Web 2.0 activity through frequent use of all forms of social media – blogs micro-blogs, social media, video and photo sharing


-- Websites need to give more space to user-generated content to enhance content and connect directly with users or users will create their own venues that are harder for companies to track and participate with effectively

-- Marketing, customer service and consumer intelligence departments need to converge to understand and address the impact of social media

-- New ways of engaging consumers must be developed that enable companies to listen to and promote their brands through information sharing based on mutual respect and transparent communication

More information on CRM can be found at

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

B2B Marketers Need To Keep Up With Business Technology Buyers On Social Media

Despite the fact that 77 percent of business technology decision-makers engage with social media on the job, most B2B marketers are not effectively using social technologies to influence the purchasing decisions of their customers, according to new research from Forrester Research, Inc. According to the Forrester survey, technology decision-makers actively participate in social media as it relates to their job. The Social Technographics Profile segments buyers into six categories based on their social activities:

Creators -- 27 percent publish a blog, publish Web pages, create/upload video or music, or write articles and post them online.

Critics -- 37 percent post reviews of products or services, comment on someone else's blog, or contribute to online forums.

Collectors -- 29 percent use RSS feeds, vote for Web sites online, or add tags to Web pages or photos.

Joiners -- 29 percent maintain a profile on a social networking site or visit social networking sites.

Spectators -- 69 percent read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch video from other users, or read online forums and reviews.

Inactives -- 23 percent do not participate in any social media activities for work purposes.

Despite these activities, social media has yet to effectively influence a large part of the technology buying process. Fifty-one percent of survey respondents feel social media doesn't play an important role in the purchasing process, and 60 percent of survey respondents don't find blogs more valuable than editorial content for informing purchase decisions. More than three-fourths of respondents said peers influence their purchase decisions more than any other media or information source.

More information on CRM can be found at

Sunday, March 1, 2009

As Recession Deepens, Top Performers Revamp Their Marketing Budgets

Aberdeen research reveals that 82% of companies have reallocated their planned marketing spend for 2009 to varying degrees on account of the recession. For only 8% of companies has the current economic climate had no effect on their planned marketing spend. The specific revisions that many Best-in-Class companies have made to their original marketing plans for 2009 in response to the economic downturn are multifaceted, affecting everything from the number, scope and types of marketing campaigns that companies intend to launch to the deployment of new technologies and analytic capabilities to ensure that the campaigns that do launch achieve the desired results.

One major trend relates to the migration of marketing spend from high-cost channels like TV and print to low-cost channels like email that tend to be more cost effective in yielding the desired results and can also be more closely tracked and measured, which is imperative from a performance management perspective. In fact, Aberdeen research reveals that 60% of Best-in-Class companies have cut their previously allocated marketing spend in traditional media, 18% by more than half, while 47% of Best-in-Class companies, compared to 26% of Laggards, have increased their marketing spend on email marketing.

The report includes a number of recommendations to help spur performance improvements, based on the actions that Best-in-Class companies are taking, including an increased emphasis on customer data management and analytics to enable customer value management and to drive precision marketing effectiveness. Recommended actions also include the deployment of various technologies, including market asset management systems, which reduce costs by providing seamless asset management through content distribution workflow, mobile marketing solutions, which can be used to reach consumers on the go in a relevant, engaging and cost-effective manner, and lead nurturing solutions, which can help overcome the budget freezes and longer sales cycles that have become hallmarks of the economic downturn.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at