Monday, June 29, 2009

Sustainability is the New "Green"

Aberdeen Group announced the release of its The 2009 State of the Market: Mid Year Insights Report which found that for more and more companies, positive social and environmental performance is inextricably tied to a vision of long-term viability and success, however, sustainability is not synonymous with "green" or environmental initiatives. Throughout the past year, Aberdeen’s research shows that leading companies have made a resoundingly strong business case for the adoption of genuine sustainability strategies to drive demonstrable business results -- from bottom line cost reductions and enhanced brand value, to optimized performance and ability to attract and satisfy customers, partners and employees.

The report finds that sustainability is an increasingly important aspect of corporate strategy. Across a wide array of sectors, representing firms of all sizes and from all geographies, sustainability and corporate responsibility have grown in importance even as the economy has become more challenging. The emergence of responsibility-framed strategies for business sustainability underscores the increasing importance of social and environmental stewardship to shareholders, customers, trading partners, and regulators alike. The increasing integration of sustainability criteria into organizational strategy marks a dramatic shift in the culture of the business ecosystem worldwide. Indeed, this shift in vision and action has decisively transformed the global market and the very nature of internal and external processes, requirements, alliances, and opportunities.

Based upon findings from over 700 companies worldwide, results continue to demonstrate that sustainability initiatives are increasingly championed by C-level executives. A robust 84% of all respondents already have (65%), or plan to have (19%), executive leadership for their company-wide sustainability strategy. Further demonstrating the continued importance of sustainability even in the current economic climate, for 71% of respondents, dedicated sustainability budgets are either being maintained at current levels (34%) or are being increased (37%). Only 3% of respondents indicated that their sustainability budget will decrease.

The research further reveals that top performing organizations with responsibility-framed strategies have achieved dramatic competitive advantages. In fact, sustainability-driven top performers have reaped impressive rewards across the value chain -- from bottom line cost reductions and enhanced brand value to optimized performance and an improved ability to attract and satisfy customers, trading partners, and talent. Results from Aberdeen research demonstrates that leading companies have made a resoundingly strong business case for the adoption and expansion of genuine, sustainability strategies and initiatives. However, for too many companies sustainability is a focus for the benefits it delivers according to metrics that are not measured at all, unevenly measured, or not communicated. As a result, the positive impact of sustainability initiatives on the efficiency, quality, and resilience of a company is often only anecdotally understood while the work of making the business case in quantitative as well as qualitative terms is unevenly attended to.

A key takeaway of the report is that CEOs who don’t have a sustainability strategy in place should immediately benchmark current performance while investigating opportunities to drive measurable linked to desirable business, social and environmental outcomes.

More information about CRM can be found at

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Survey Reveals Why Online Shoppers Abandon Purchases

A PayPal survey has revealed that nearly half (45 percent) of online shoppers have abandoned their carts multiple times in the past three weeks due to high shipping costs, security concerns and lack of convenience. The average cost of abandoned goods in U.S. shopping carts is $109.

High shipping costs was cited as the largest single reason for cart abandonment. While nothing could have prevented one-third of shoppers from abandoning purchases, the survey found that providing shipping costs upfront might have caused 40 percent to complete the purchase.

The survey also uncovered signs that the economy still has shoppers wary about clicking the "purchase" button. More than one-third of respondents abandoned checkout because they didn't plan for all of the expenses; while more than 25 percent left the site to search for a coupon. However, one-third of shoppers later returned to the same site to buy. An additional 20 percent purchased the items at a brick and mortar store or competitor's Web site.

Breakdown on Why Shoppers Abandon

At least a fifth of all U.S. survey respondents cited the following as very important reasons for cart abandonment:

--High shipping charges: 46 percent
--Wanted to comparison shop: 37 percent
--Lack of money: 36 percent
--Wanted to look for a coupon: 27 percent
--Wanted to shop offline: 26 percent
--Couldn't find preferred pay option: 24 percent
--Item was unavailable at checkout: 23 percent
--Couldn't find customer support: 22 percent
--Concerned about security of credit card data: 21 percent

More information on CRM can be found at

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Social Media Explosion

Social networks are exploding in popularity. Forty-three percent of the online community now uses social networking sites, including Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. This is up from 27 percent a year ago, reports The Conference Board and TNS.

The Consumer Internet Barometer, a quarterly report produced by The Conference Board, the global business membership and research association, and TNS, a global market insight and information group, surveys 10,000 households across the country and tracks who's doing what on the Internet.

More than half of social networkers log on at least once a day, and the majority log on several times a day. Interacting with family, friends and celebrities are among the main reasons people log on to sites like Twitter. The majority of users log on at home, although a quarter of social networkers log on at work, and 10 percent connect through their phone.

Social networking spans all generations. Today, about 19 percent of those age 55 and over visit these sites, up from just 6 percent a year ago. Women are more likely than men to use social networking sites (48 percent versus 38 percent), but usage has increased dramatically among both groups in just a year.

Facebook Most Popular Site

The most popular site is Facebook, used by 78 percent of online households, followed by MySpace (42 percent), LinkedIn (17 percent) and Twitter (10 percent).
Both men and women use Facebook in equal numbers. However, women are more likely than men (47 percent versus 35 percent) to use MySpace. Conversely, more men than women (21 percent versus 15 percent) use LinkedIn. Across generations, Facebook usage is about equal, but when it comes to MySpace, those under 35 are more likely to have an account than their older counterparts.

When asked with whom they would like more access/interaction with, celebrities (15 percent) topped the list, with favorite company (14 percent), service providers (13 percent) and athletes/sports teams (11 percent) not far behind.

The top concerns of social networking members — expressed by about 50 percent — are viruses/malware, exposure of information to strangers and lack of privacy. Women tend to be moderately more concerned than men. Only 14 percent claim they have no concerns, compared to 22 percent of men.

Twitter Encourages Closer Connections

Members of Twitter, the real-time micro-blogging website, say their top reasons for "tweeting" are to connect with friends (42 percent), update their status (29 percent) and look for news (26 percent). They also use Twitter for work-related (22 percent) reasons. Two out of three Twitter users interact with friends. Thirty percent interact with family, 30 percent connect with celebrities, and 24 percent interact with other bloggers. Members of Twitter also are likely to interact with TV shows, employers, co-workers, companies/brands and TV anchors/journalists.
Among Twitter users, half report being introduced to the site by a friend or family member, and one out of three were introduced by a co-worker.

More information on social media can be found at

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Survey Shows Social Media is Emerging as a Direct Marketing Channel

StrongMail Systems, Inc., a provider of commercial-grade solutions for marketing and transactional email, announced new survey data that points to the emergence of social media as a direct marketing channel and significant planned investment in email marketing and social media programs in the second half of 2009.

According to the survey, there is still a wide-spread land-grab for ownership of social media within the various facets of marketing, with 29 percent of respondents stating that responsibility is owned by multiple departments. However, social media appears to be emerging as a direct channel with 36 percent of survey respondents stating that the direct marketing department owns social media. Surprisingly, only 9 percent of the respondents report that social media is owned by public relations departments, suggesting that marketing teams value social media more for its demand generation potential than awareness building. A paltry 5 percent have a dedicated social media department.

The survey also revealed that social media is a hot initiative with email marketers, with 66 percent planning to integrate the two channels in 2009, and 48 percent who have already formulated a strategy for achieving this initiative. Funding is also exceptionally strong for both channels. Of marketers planning to increase budgets in 2009, 83 percent will increase spend in email marketing, followed by social media at 62 percent.

The increased focus and investment in social media underscores the importance of applying resources properly; however, there is still widespread confusion regarding how a social media strategy for email marketing should be implemented. 55 percent of respondents report that one of their biggest challenges with integrating social media and email marketing is determining metrics by which to measure success. At 48 percent, establishing business goals for the program is a close second.

Based on these findings, it's clear that social media has grown to the stage where it needs an owner and a purpose within marketing. StrongMail believes that the intrinsic interconnection between social media and email make it an ideal direct channel. Email continues to drive engagement in social networks by alerting members of new content and updates, and the ability to communicate relevant messages within social networks is critical to a business’ success in the medium.

More information on CRM can be found at

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Social networking and the contact center: customer service goes social

According to independent market analysis firm Datamonitor, companies of all sizes have begun to engage customers and prospects on social networking services. Much of that activity has been pure marketing, but some leading edge companies have started to offer customer service and support through social networking. This, according to the firm’s new report ‘The Rise of Social Networking and Emerging Channels in Customer Service’, has started companies thinking of ways to connect their key customer service resource—the contact center—to social networks.

Individuals are constructing elaborate online social networks that in many cases are significantly broader than their real-world equivalents. These exponentially expanding webs of connections lead to viral communications: a customer’s uncommonly good experience with a company is no longer heard about just by that person’s four close friends, but by thousands. The converse is also true, of course, and complaints about products and services go viral very quickly.

The increased corporate presence on these networks has also led to service interactions between company and customer. Some of these interactions result from a direct contact from a customer to a company (akin to a phone call into a contact center). But with new social media monitoring tools, companies have also begun to inject themselves into customer conversations. If, for example, a customer complains to the world at large about poor service, the company being complained about proactively reaches out to the customer to try to solve the issue.

Essentially all of the customer service and support being performed today on online social networks comes from social media specialists within companies. These staffers have the latitude required to understand both the written and unwritten rules of social networking and can imbue the service interactions with some personality.

However, this model cannot scale to meet the exponential growth which online social networking services are experiencing. Therefore, according to Datamonitor there is a clear opportunity for customer interaction technology providers to create solutions that provide scalability for these support operations, primarily by allowing formal contact center environments to handle some or all of these interactions. There are, of course, numerous technological, business process and cultural hurdles to overcome before this model can gain a strong foothold in the enterprise market.

More information on customer relationship management can be found at

Monday, June 8, 2009

Growth in Outsourced Customer Care Services in Europe, Middle East, and Africa Undeterred Despite Economic Downturn

According to analyst group Frost & Sullivan, outsourcing firms handling call volumes from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) continue to remain competitive and profitable with successful initiatives to contain cost during the global economic downturn. Outsourcing providers also cite competitive pressures and regulatory factors that may affect future, short-term business growth. The complete effect of the global economic downturn that began at the end of 2007 is that the new business pipeline from existing customers and prospects for several vendors has been promising. Past perceptions of loss of control over customer interactions are diminishing, as providers in this market deploy successful implementations, offer advanced services, and publish customer success stories.

A number of market participants report that they have moved to better align their sales forces with client demand for vertical expertise, especially in financial services, as well as telecom, travel, and healthcare. Many providers are in the process of expanding their respective professional services groups in anticipation of new consulting opportunities.

Currently, the most evident challenge in call centers is that of complexity. This includes increased diversity and complexity of products and services, the need for agents' multi-lingual skills, consumer demand for speed and multichannel media touches, and increased emphasis on cross-selling and up-selling. EMEA providers report dealing with complex industry legislation and regulatory compliance issues.

Those providers offering multiple solutions and agent models, such as client-in house agents, vendor brick-and-mortar agents, self-service options, and work-at-home or remote agents, are in a favorable position to take advantage of the market. Outsourcing firms that have CEO support to execute a solid security strategy, with an established internal security practice, will be well-prepared to meet these important client demands for data privacy, security certifications, and regulatory compliance.

More information on CRM can be found at

Monday, June 1, 2009

CMOs Identify Top Benefits and Challenges in Digital Marketing

The CMO Club and Omniture, Inc. announced the results of The Digital Marketing Survey. The annual survey, which gauges CMO perspectives on key digital marketing topics and provides benchmarks for usage of digital marketing technologies, provides insights about how CMOs are applying digital marketing, particularly in response to the challenging economic environment.

Key findings include:

--CMOs rank customer acquisition as #1 digital marketing benefit. Across industries, CMOs find digital marketing to be a critical tool in acquiring customers more cost-effectively. Additional benefits cited were more cost-effective conversion, improved credibility with C-level peers, and accurate measurement, varied widely by industry.

--CMOs said linking online initiatives to offline customer behavior is the top digital marketing challenge. 62% of CMOs say their most significant digital challenge is measuring how online marketing programs impact the offline behavior of their customers. Nearly 50% stated that staying abreast of the rapid changes in digital media and digital tools also presented a major challenge.

--CMOs still view email, search, and site optimization as the most effective digital tools, despite the explosion in social media. Nearly 70% of CMOs consider email, search engine optimization, and site optimization to be their most effective digital media, while CMO success with social media is mixed and varies by industry. Meanwhile, only 25% of CMOs are investing in mobile ads.

--CMOs indentified peer groups as their preferred source for digital marketing insight. Nearly 79% of CMOs consider peer groups as their most likely source for digital marketing insight in 2009. Resources that provide true thought leadership in best practices and case studies are also preferred sources for CMOs.

More information on CRM can be found at