Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In Social Media, Point-of-View Equals ROI

Marketers rushed into social media in 2009 like gunmen into banks, looking for fast cash and a quick way out. Typically, this resulted in a bad experience for all parties and a premature determination that this "social media thing" just doesn't pay out. To avoid such folly in 2010, marketers would be wise to follow these three basic steps to optimizing their social media ROI.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Social media like Twitter change customer service

Hailed as the Next Big Thing, customer service through Twitter is a work in progress. The performance of many companies has been uneven as they try to handle a crush of customer queries, integrate Twitter into their overall strategy and manage the heightened expectations of consumers. however, Twitter should augment customer service, not be some magic bullet.

Read the full article from USA Today.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Biggest Marketing Supply Chain Savings Go Unaddressed

Nearly two-thirds of senior marketers have never undertaken a comprehensive audit of the costs and processes that contribute to their marketing supply chain and most admit their resources and suppliers are poorly integrated across global networks, reports the Chief Marketing Office (CMO) Council.

The milestone “Define Where to Streamline” study (www.marketingsupplychain.org/report) provides a comprehensive assessment of how well marketers are managing, controlling and introducing sustainability practices across increasingly complex global supply chains. These include hundreds or thousands of printers, exhibit and merchandise suppliers, warehouse and fulfillment operations, communications agencies, media channels, independent contractors, as well as creative and digital service providers.

The online audit of more than 300 senior marketers conducted by the CMO Council found marketers are inadequately positioned to introduce new efficiencies and waste reduction programs into their marketing ecosystems.

While only 25.2 percent of respondents have undertaken a comprehensive audit and analysis of costs and process efficiencies in their supply chain, the study found that roughly the same number – 25.9 percent – track obsolescence on marketing and event management consumables. However, just over 50 percent of the marketers audited acknowledge that ROI could be the greatest reward from an optimized supply chain as a streamlined process will likely speed time-to-market and time-to-value from marketing spend. These numbers reflect a lack of visibility into marketing supply chain operations and poor tracking and accountability of marketing materials and merchandise inventory, which often involve millions of printed items, including product packaging, corporate brochures, sales literature, premiums and point-of-sale display units.

Interestingly, the CMO Council study suggests that a trend toward greater sustainability and carbon footprint reductions may lead many marketers onto the right path for gaining a deeper understanding of their supplier network and value chain. More than two-thirds of respondents – 63.6 percent – said they are targeting print production, warehousing and delivery of marketing consumables and 37.1 percent said they were targeting transportation and logistics with an eye toward realizing sustainability gain and carbon footprint improvements. Delving into these areas will enable marketers to exact cost-savings and efficiency improvements from many of the greatest areas of spend within their marketing supply chains.

Other key findings from the report include:

-- With 89 percent of companies indicating they are not generating real economies or efficiencies in their marketing supply chain process, marketers are further challenged as one third of respondents indicate they have no internal resource of expertise in supply chain management. In fact, 47.8 percent of marketers surveyed indicate that marketing supply chain management is an evolving functional area that needs more attention or a discipline growing in importance of value.

--30.4 percent of respondents said they weren’t fully realizing the value and potential of the Internet and instead are managing partners through traditional means while 30.1 percent clearly have adopted an online approach, saying they were seeing major improvements in workflow, collaboration, content access and digital asset management.

-- Marketers acknowledge that a streamlined supply chain can improve go-to-market strategy and speed time-to-value from marketing spend, and play a critical role in managing the potential variance in customer experience. The delivery of accurate and relevant content, the uniformity of communication and consistency of message, and the timely provisioning of up-to-date sales and marketing messages and materials are the top three critical values an optimized marketing supply chain to go-to-market strategy.

-- Creative, once an area often left in the hands of agencies or advertising, may come under greater scrutiny as a significant number of marketers – 40.5 percent – identified creative design and development as an area in the marketing supply chain with the greatest potential for process, productivity and performance improvements.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Companies Identify Major Business Benefits in Listening to Online Conversation

As control of a company’s marketing messages -- and, indeed, its very brand image -- continues to migrate from traditional media to social media, companies need to pay close attention to how they're being perceived in online conversations. They also need to take appropriate action, based on the insights they glean.

That’s precisely what a growing number of companies are doing, according to a new benchmark report published by the Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company. In fact, the research found that, despite the substantial cutbacks that most companies have been forced to make in light of the global economic recession, 50% of all companies are increasing their investment level in social media monitoring initiatives. The research also found that the insights derived from social media monitoring and analysis can benefit multiple parts of the organization, including marketing, sales, public relations, customer service, market research and product management.

Aberdeen research reveals a number of striking performance disparities between Best-in-Class, Industry Average and Laggard companies. For example, Best-in-Class organizations are 2.6-times more likely than Industry Average companies, and 93-times more likely than Laggards, to improve their ability to generate consumer insights that drive new product/service development. They are also 3.3-times more likely than Industry Average companies, and 82-times more likely than Laggards, to improve their ability to identify and reduce risk to the brand. Best-in-Class organizations also outperformed Laggards when it comes to improving customer advocacy and decreasing customer service costs.

In addition to deploying the right set of enabling technologies, success in social media monitoring requires a combination of strategic actions and organizational capabilities. To that point, Best-in-Class companies are 42% more likely than Laggards to have a process for disseminating insights gleaned from consumer-generated content to key decision-makers and also twice as likely to have a process for applying the insights in the context of specific needs. Best-in-Class companies are 1.9-times more likely than Laggards to have dedicated operations resources devoted to social media monitoring, analysis and reporting.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Five best practices for avoiding “CRM Gone Wild”

When it comes to creating a successful CRM project -- whether it's automating the quote-to-order process, creating greater visibility into the sales pipeline, refining your partner relationship management practices, or meeting any other business requirement -- less is more. In other words, identify your top CRM-related business goal, define the related functionality, and then deliver it. Save the "nice to have" wish list for later.
Read the full article...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Worldwide SaaS Revenue to Grow 18 Percent in 2009

Worldwide software as a service (SaaS) revenue is forecast to reach $7.5 billion in 2009, a 17.7 percent increase from 2008 revenue of $6.4 billion, according to Gartner, Inc. The market will show consistent growth through 2013 when worldwide SaaS revenue will total over $14 billion for the enterprise application markets.

The content, communications and collaboration (CCC) market and the customer relationship management (CRM) market continue to have the largest amount of SaaS revenue across market segments, with the CCC market generating $2.6 billion in 2009, up from $2.14 billion in 2008 and the CRM segment generating $2.3 billion in 2009, up from $1.9 billion in 2008.

SaaS has continued to represent a key driver of growth in the CRM market for the past four years, climbing from less than $500 million in 2005 and over 8 percent of the CRM market to over 20 percent of the market in 2008, with nearly $1.9 billion in revenue. Gartner expects growth to continue, with SaaS representing almost 24 percent of the CRM market’s total software revenue in 2009.

More information on SaaS can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Google tries its own take on customer service

If you rely on a compelling service that happens to be free, what level of customer support are you entitled to receive? Google is trying to figure that out. Known for using brilliant engineers, complex algorithms and speedy servers to organize online information in a simple and accessible fashion, Google is learning how to add the human touch to its repertoire as customers look for answers that can't be found on an FAQ.

For many users of Google's free services, support is limited to a series of Web pages, FAQs, and user forums. That's not that surprising, since Google can't realistically offer phone support to every Gmail user who can't figure out the conversation-based design.

But as Google continues to push forward with free advertising-supported services that people and small businesses increasingly rely on in their personal and professional lives, the company appears to be banking on its ability to train those users to expect a healthy dose of relatively low-cost support.

Read the full article.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Web Remains Retail Industry's "Growth Engine" This Holiday

With overall retail sales expected to show no gain this holiday shopping season, online retail sales in the US will reach $44.7 billion this holiday season, an eight percent increase over last year, according to a new forecast by Forrester Research, Inc.. The growth rate represents an increase from 2008, when, on the heels of the worst of the global financial crisis, online holiday retail sales in the US grew just five percent. Forrester defines the holiday shopping season as the months of November and December.

The National Retail Federation has forecast a one percent decline in overall US holiday retail sales for this year. A recent Forrester survey of more than 4,000 US online consumers showed that 94 percent of those who made a purchase online within the past three months plan to continue to buy online this holiday season. And 72 percent of retailers surveyed in "The State Of Retailing Online," a Shop.org study conducted by Forrester in Q3 of this year, say they expect online holiday sales to increase over last year.

As outlined in the new Forrester report "US Online Holiday Retail Forecast, 2009," online retailers will strive to balance consumer demand this holiday with profitability. Improving margins is in; chasing sales is so last year. The change in strategy will manifest itself in a number of different ways, including more limited-time and limited-quantity sales as retailers seek to reduce across-the-board discounting. Retailers will also cut down on automatic free shipping and institute price thresholds to qualify for free shipping. Customer engagement is also a priority this holiday: Expect to see online retailers deploy more cross-channel customer service options, advanced merchandizing software that will provide more product information, and enhanced social networking tools that will enable consumers to share purchase decisions with friends.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com