Tuesday, March 30, 2010

IDC Forecasts Tech Sales & Marketing Expenses to Grow Faster Than Revenue in 2010

The International Data Corporation (IDC) Executive Advisory Group forecasts that global sales and marketing expenses will to grow at 4.7% and 3.5% respectively in 2010, outpacing the projected 3.2% growth in worldwide IT spending. These expense gains will lead tech executives to accelerate their initiatives to improve the productivity and cost efficiency of sales and marketing.

In addition, executives may continue to seek greater sales and marketing alignment through dramatic organization and reporting changes, as a way to solve the costly misalignments that have continually undermined sales and marketing integration and efficiency. Recent research from IDC indicates that over 20% of tech organizations with revenues of more than $1 billion have witnessed "significant" organization change during the past twelve months. A majority of senior tech sales and marketing executives expect this trend to continue throughout 2010.

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Survey: Live Chat Helps Convert Customers

Bold Software announced the second annual release of a report detailing the industry’s most comprehensive research on the effectiveness of live chat technology. While 2009 findings included insights such as the fact that once a shopper has used live chat, more than 2/3rds will actively look for websites that provide it, the 2010version includes new questions, a much larger sample size, and detailed information about specific retailer types. One statistic drives home the effectiveness of live chat: 77 percent of chatters agree that the technology positively influenced their attitude about the e-tailer.

In January 2010, Bold Software funded a blind survey of more than 1,000 regular, U.S.-based internet shoppers using an opt-in, third party panel. Out of this live chat research, five key conclusions can be drawn:

There is a relationship between live chat and certain demographic/psychographic characteristics.
Utilizing a standard statistical analysis technique, the report concludes that those who have engaged in an online chat with a retailer are more likely to have higher household incomes, be older than 30, and to be college educated. Additionally, shoppers who spend more, either on an average transaction basis or in a single transaction, are more likely to have had a chat before. For internet retailers that serve this demographic, this is an important finding because visitors to their sites will be more likely to have chatted before. This fact is even more critical considering the next conclusion drawn from this research.

There is a widening gap in attitude and behavior between those that have chatted and those that haven’t.
In several places throughout the report, the disparity of response between chatters and non-chatters was extremely significant. Those that have chatted are far more likely to indicate that chat influences them to buy, far more likely to think chat is more efficient than emailing or calling, far more likely to select chat as their preferred method of communication, and so on. Additionally, the disparity between chatters and non-chatters appears to be growing year-over-year which indicates a deepening relationship between experiencing live chat technology and one’s attitude about it.

Live chat continues to be effective – for sales & service.
The research shows that live chat is an effective channel for both new and existing customers. Customers using the technology pre-sale went up 7 percentage points since last year’s research and more than three quarters of the chatting population reported that live chat positively affected their overall impression of the retailer with whom they chatted. Significant movement year-over-year was also seen with regard to same-session purchases – a 15 percent rise was seen in those chatters agreeing that they purchased as a direct result of their most recent chat session..

Fear of proactively inviting visitors to chat is unfounded.
Many retailers – even those who do use live chat technology – are reluctant to proactively invite website visitors for fear of driving them away. This research shows that the majority of consumers (52 percent) are accepting of the practice. Certain sub-groups are even more receptive including more frequent shoppers and those that spend more.

Certain types of internet retailers will find live chat relatively more effective.
When the data is filtered to create sub-groups of respondents indicating that they recently shopped at particular types of retailer sites, this research shows, for the following retailer types (listed alphabetically), live chat is comparatively more effective:
Hardware/Home Improvement
Office Supplies
Sporting Goods

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

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

“Show Me the Value,” Say Recession-Weary Consumers

The late ‘90s mantra of “Show me the money” has morphed into “Show me the value,” reflecting a new focus by consumers hungry for value in all its forms, according to Convergys’ recently completed 2010 Consumer Scorecard Research study. Recession-weary U.S. consumers want the companies with which they do business to value them, value their time, value their money, and value their preferences, say the study findings.

Results from Convergys’ second annual consumer research study demonstrate that the recession has increased consumer demand for excellence in customer service. 46% of the study respondents reported that they are worse off than they were a year ago, and the key word for today’s consumers is “value:”

Value my time: Consumers continue to expect superior customer service experiences, with 33% of survey respondents choosing “addresses my needs on first contact” as the top customer service attribute, up slightly from the 2008 pre-recession research. Since they are key to first-contact resolution, “knowledgeable employees” also ranked high, chosen by 25% of consumers as the third most important customer service attribute, up from 22% in 2008.

Value my money: Recession-weary consumers are not just looking for the lowest cost but the best value in their customer transactions. 31% of survey respondents chose “good value for the money” as the second most important customer service attribute, up significantly from 2008. 33% of respondents rated reliable service as more important than price in their definition of what constitutes “good value for money.” Only 5% of customers defined good value as “paying the lowest price.”

Value me: “Treats me like a valued customer” was the fourth most important attribute, cited by 22% of survey respondents, up from 13% in 2008 and the fastest growing attribute of choice for consumers who want positive acknowledgment from the companies that win their business.

Value my preferences: Survey respondents’ contact channel preferences point to an increasing need for multiple customer care solutions that combine agent-assisted service with automation and self-service options. While consumers still prefer to speak with a customer service agent, customer service via self- service, live web chat, automated phone systems, and e-mail with response is also gaining traction.

Despite consumers’ clear preferences for value and efficient issue resolution, bad customer experiences continue to frustrate consumers, 57% of whom reported having a bad experience with a company, up slightly from 2008. In response, today’s value-minded consumer is more likely to speak with his or her wallet: 44% of the survey respondents who had a bad experience reported that they stopped doing business with that company, up from 38% in 2008.

Those who stay are more likely to seek and expect resolution from a company when they do not receive the service and value they expect. Survey respondents reported that they informed companies of their bad experiences 66% of the time, up from 58% in 2008. Companies that were not equipped to resolve or respond to customer complaints paid the price in customer defections. 57% of survey respondents who reported a bad experience and did not receive a response from the company stopped doing business with the offending party, as did 50% of respondents who received a response without resolution.

80% of survey respondents who had a bad experience with a company also told their friends and colleagues about it, spreading the word through face-to-face chats, e-mails, text messages, and social media, which has immense power to amplify the voice of the frustrated consumer widely among a company’s customers and potential customers.

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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Social Media Are Influencing Consumer Preferences, IDC Retail Insights Says

IDC Retail Insights recently released a new report, which gives an overview of the main opportunities being created by social networks for retailing. This study also analyzes the various social phenomena developing on the Web 2.0, and how these can be used by retailers to gain a competitive advantage.

Social media — with the top 10 social networks now having surpassed 1.3 billion members — are also influencing consumer preferences by shaping their attitudes and behavior.

Therefore, Web 2.0 technologies will play an extremely important role across all retail segments. Social networks, blogs, and price comparison Web sites can all be used to attract and influence customers, to study demand patterns, to improve brand image, and to support customers after their purchases.

IDC Retail Insights highlights the following:

-- The innovative nature of social media can turn multiple account profiles into an opportunity for retailers to capitalize on same-shopper sales growth prospects.

-- Retailers' presence across social media networks needs to be well balanced, allowing consumers to feel in control of their own personal spheres. A friendly, interactive presence on a social network can greatly improve brand image and help the company gather extremely useful, unstructured data about demand trends.

-- The use of mobile social networks has grown significantly, in a process that will most likely bridge the gap between online and physical shopping.

According to IDC Retail Insights, retailers should establish a presence on social networks not only with the direct objective of attracting consumers to their Web sites or stores, but most importantly to gather useful information, in a non-intrusive way, on their current and potential customers. In other words, retailers should learn to listen at customers who are engaged in social communities.

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

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

“The State of Marketing 2010” Survey Results

Unica Corporation, a provider of marketing software solutions, announced results from its global survey of marketers, titled "The State of Marketing 2010." Results revealed a number of key findings on marketing challenges and bottlenecks, marketing technology adoption, and of course, new marketing channels.

Marketers highlight turning data into actions as one of their top issues and see IT as their number one technology bottleneck; contact optimization adoption will be the fastest growing marketing technology; and emerging channels like mobile, rich media, and social media are all being adopted with enthusiasm by marketers. Nearly half of marketers surveyed have already embraced social media marketing, and adoption is healthy across most social media outlets, such as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. However, marketers need to think more about integrating social media with other marketing tactics.

Mobile marketing continues its march toward greater significance. More than one third of marketers surveyed already conduct some type of mobile marketing. For marketers already embracing mobile, the richer interactivity of mobile web sites and mobile applications is proving to be an equal draw to text messaging.

Customer-initiated interactions (inbound marketing) provide an excellent opportunity to personalize marketing communications, and nearly three quarters leverage these interactions to serve marketing messages and offers. Customers who engage by their own choice and share information are much more receptive to offers. There is also notably more net expected usage of inbound marketing in call centers and on web sites than in physical stores.

The survey also highlights that many marketers use both aggregate web data and offline data when making decisions about marketing offers. This trend will likely continue to grow over the next twelve months (expected channel use ranging from 51%-92% for online data and 43%-81% for offline data). Interestingly, email is the channel where both online and offline data are most likely to be used in decision making -- it ties direct mail for offline use.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Survey Reveals 38% of IT Managers Ignoring Web 2.0 Risks

FaceTime Communications' fifth annual survey showed social media and Web 2.0 applications have been adopted by 99% of end users to support business processes, even though 38% of IT professionals believe there is no social networking present on their networks. Web chat also featured in 95% of organizations, yet was recognized by only 31% of IT Managers showing vivid differences between IT estimates and reality. IT Managers also reported an increasing requirement for the logging of IM (40% of IT respondents) and content posted to social networks (27% of IT respondents).

The survey shows that use of Internet applications has grown from being present in 78% of enterprises in 2007 to 99% of enterprise networks, with tools ranging from public IM, Skype, file sharing, web conferencing, and IPTV becoming commonplace. Some 53% of end users indicated that newer Web 2.0 tools are "better than those provided by my employer."

Social networking use for business has grown exponentially. While 95% of users now use social networking for business reasons, 61% said they use public social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube every day, up from 51% in 2008,. Fifteen percent use these sites "constantly throughout the day." The use of tools such as Twitter for work purposes has risen almost sixfold in 12 months and now is used by 78% of end users.

While malware attacks through Web 2.0 applications continue to be the largest concern for IT professionals – 69% of organizations reported at least one Web 2.0-related attack – worries about employee productivity with relation to Web 2.0 have fallen significantly, with just 24% reporting productivity concerns as an issue, down from 74% in 2007. Fourteen percent report data leakage over social networks and 18% indicate incidents occurring over social networks where disciplinary action was required.

A trend is beginning to emerge in relation to archiving and eDiscovery for Web 2.0 content. Sixty-six percent of organizations have been provided with guidance on retaining email traffic, this falls to 40% for IM and chat, but the requirement to retain content posted to social networks has appeared for the first time. Legal counsel has provided 27% of organizations with guidance on the retention of this content, with a further 42% of IT professionals anticipating that this will happen "shortly".

More information on social media can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cloud Reality Check: Vendors Will Grow Mindshare, not Market Share in 2010

Forty-three percent of enterprises cite cost savings as their top reason for moving their infrastructure to cloud computing. Does today's tight economy mean 2010 will be the year enterprises fully embrace the cloud?

Probably not. As Yankee Group finds in its new report, "Clouds in 2010: Vendor Optimism Meets Enterprise Realities," fully 75 percent of enterprises are earmarking no more than a third of their 2010 IT budget to the cloud. While the 26 thought leaders Yankee Group interviewed for the report all have high hopes for cloud computing this year, enterprises cite key stumbling blocks, including security, performance, standards and interoperability issues. And Yankee Group sees those issues festering well into 2010 and beyond.

Other key findings include:

-- Security SLAs are a must-have. Security and availability are the top two barriers preventing enterprise usage of cloud computing, even in private cloud scenarios.

-- Established firms have a leg up on the cloud competition. Enterprises say their go-to vendors for infrastructure-as-a service offerings in 2010 include Cisco, IBM and AT&T, while Microsoft, IBM and Sun are the prime choices for platform as a service.

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

Friday, March 5, 2010

Business "Value" Metrics Are Needed To Gauge Data Management and Governance Success

More than half (60.8 percent) of 400 technology executives polled online by Deloitte believe metrics that gauge cost, time, quality and risk, along with governance compliance dashboards, are the most effective types of data management and governance measurements. Polled during a recent Deloitte webcast, executives also believe that focusing attention on the business case for data management is more important than just considering what type of technology might solve information governance issues.

Other notable polling results included:

-- A mere 7.4 percent of technology executives said their companies tried to implement a data governance program and were either unsuccessful or searching for new ideas and guidance on implementing data governance.

-- More than a third (36.4 percent) think the chief information officer (CIO) should be the sponsor and accountable for data governance in an organization; 8 percent favored the chief technology officer (CTO).

-- Just over 20 percent of respondents believed enterprise information asset optimization (i.e. -- data warehouse rationalization) is the most pressing business problem within their organizations; 15.5 percent chose data asset specific optimization (i.e. -- customer, products, and supplier) as their top problem.

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

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Marketers to Hire Again; Remain Focused on Social Media

Top marketing officers at U.S. companies plan significant hiring increases over the next two years as they remain optimistic about prospects for their firms and the U.S. economy, a new survey has found.

The February 2010 CMO Survey is a nationwide poll of chief marketing officers conducted twice each year by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in conjunction with the American Marketing Association. The survey collected responses from 612 marketing executives during the last two weeks of January.

Nearly half of companies say they expect to hire new marketers during the next six months, while 60 percent will do so in the next year and almost 90 percent over the next two years. Firms plan to increase hiring levels by 8 percent in the next six months, 13 percent during the next year, and 24 percent over the next two years.

Experienced marketers with skills related to Internet marketing, innovation and growth, and customer relationship and brand management will be the most sought after by survey respondents.

The biggest increase in marketing hiring is expected among business-to-business (B2B) product companies, while B2B services companies predict the smallest hiring growth. Consistent with this, B2B services marketers report the highest expected increase in outsourced marketing activities.

Overall optimism among marketers continues to grow, with 62 percent reporting their optimism about the U.S. economy has increased since last quarter, and nearly 64 percent feeling more optimistic about their own companies than they did last quarter. By contrast, in the August 2009 survey, marketers felt upbeat about the economy (59 percent) but less so about their own companies (48.2 percent).

This optimism is also reflected in respondents’ expectations for customer behavior, with 66 percent of firms anticipating increased volume in customer purchases, and 26 percent expecting higher prices. Nearly half of firms (47 percent) also expect an increase in the number of new customers in their markets, and 45 percent believe they have improved their abilities to retain current customers.

Overall, marketing budgets are expected to rise by 6 percent, the largest expected increase in a year. Internet marketing expenditures will account for the largest share of this increase, while traditional advertising will continue to drop off.

Social media continues to emerge as a central component of Internet marketing strategies. Firms currently allocate 6 percent of their marketing budgets to social media, an allotment they expect to increase to 10 percent during the next year and 18 percent over the next five years.

B2B services companies report the largest planned increases in social media spending, from 7 to 11 percent of overall marketing budgets, over the next year. This trails similar increases already made by business-to-consumer services companies, which increased social media spending from 3 to 7 percent between August 2009 and February 2010.

Other findings of the survey include:

-- Marketing channels show a similar economic rebound, with partners expected to increase level and range of products and services as well as prices paid.

-- Companies plan to increase market research and intelligence activities by 7 percent, indicating firms are investing in activities to identify new growth opportunities especially those involving diversified growth.

-- 72 percent of firms currently outsource some aspect of their marketing programs, and 41 percent expect to increase outsourcing over the next year.

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