Saturday, May 30, 2009

Time Warner To Sell Its AOL's shares

You have probably heard about this story the last couple of days. News corp Time Warner is about to sell its shares of AOL. When the merge occured in the early 2000s a lot of hope has been placed in the creation of this new business. Experts were considering that the gathering of the news corporation super power combined to the leader of the brand new Internet economy will turn into a new giant which will dominate the web.

Couple of years later we can see that it is definitely not the case. The newspapers market has been traumatized and is still struggling to a adapt to the Internet. Internet now counts for 20% of all media consumed in the US, and Time Warner has still to change its organization and philosophy about its business model.

But what is even more interesting is that AOL, which was a trailblazer on the web, did not manage to follow the web 2.0 trend. If some 1.0 companies like Meetic in Europe are thriving, news-based companies are struggling, like AOL or Yahoo!. French 1.0 Lycos, which was the leading home page site in France, has shut down couple of months ago

That shows how great the 2.0 shift has been. AOL, which became big fast, hasn't been able to remain a fast mover enough to embrace the 2.0 trend, to stay competitive, and to make the adjustments required to the blogging and social media hypes.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Paypal fait de la pub dans 20 minutes

Voici encore une fois un acteur de l'Internet qui décide de faire de la publicite hors media Internet.

Cela prouve bien qu'il y a une démocratisation de l'Internet.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Twitter Spamming

Twitter spamming is becoming more and more important. Loic Lemeur recently had a post on the Twitter Traffic Machine. The concept is simple and attractive for marketers: set up an automatic Twitter machine that will post constantly and friend people in order to generate revenues. The idea is very close to the email spamming, but so dangerous.
Email spamming
Spamming is easy, and because of spamming a lot of people believe that email marketing is cheap: It is cheap to get people's email address, and then send them tons of emails, hoping for one little transactions to make it profitable. But because of the system, you are killing the medium. If email accounts, or for instance Twitter feed, is overload by spams, then people won't be interested anymore.
People fighting spamming
That is one of the reason why we have seen the permission marketing emerging. Twitter now is facing the same problem. It is the same for print: people have seen an overload of non addressed messages, and have shown their disinterest. They are even militating for less commercials in their mail box.

What will be the response to these machines? Twitter now has a new challenge to overcome: Provide an easy and efficicent way to fight against these spammers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mobile To Boost CRM Programs

Mobile is the next best tool to interact with customers. There is no doubt about that. The mass market starts to be equipped with Internet empowered mobile handheld, and new possibilities are being explored, especially thanks to the Iphone.

Thus, mobile could become one of the main customer relationship management (CRM) tools for the next few years. It must be hold with caution, as cell phones are a very private device, but some new usages are being defined.

I have found this article on mobile marketer explaining why mobile will probably become the next big enhancer of CRM. What is very ingenious about the post is that it gives you concrete ways to use the new capabilities of cell phones for crm campaigns.

Auto sector and customer renewal
A major focus, if not the focus, for automotive CRM programs is to minimize churn and get customers to repurchase.

There are numerous factors and sophisticated modeling that go into these cycle predictions, especially between lease and purchase customers.

One factor, which is a bit more recent, is how to identify and distribute the right communication to customers who bought an SUV or other heavy fuel consumption vehicles within the last three to four years, but based on rising fuel costs and the state of the economy, now wish to downgrade to a more eco-friendly vehicle.

Mobile enhancer: How about delivering an SMS coupon when they arrive at the pump – “Here’s $5.00 off this fuel purchase, save even more next with the new (insert eco car here).”

This same offer is replicated throughout other CRM touch-point messaging, and the mobile extension brings it home, on location and right at the moment of heightened state of cost consideration.

"Catalog retailers
A classic tactic for catalog retailers, especially those who have a significant bricks-and-mortar footprint, is to distribute exclusive sales promotions to their loyal customer base.

Mobile enhancer: Ask customers to take pictures of their favorite sale items from the catalog to build a personal shopping list and bring in-store for additional percentage off.

Retailers could also gain additional data insights from this tactic by implementing technology such as Microsoft Tag within catalog pages.

Consumer packaged goods
Have you ever stopped at the supermarket on your way home from work only to search for a quick recipe from your mobile device for the first meat of choice that catches your eye?

Recipe ideas are another classic tactic that packaged goods retailers use to build both loyalty and drive product purchase.

Mobile enhancer: Text alerts providing recipe suggestions based on what your local supermarket has on sale or in season. With your packaged goods retailer’s ingredient first on the list, of course."

These are great examples you should think about when you'll start defining your next mobile marketing campaign. What do you think about those ideas? I find them pretty smart.

Retailers Using Internet During Crisis

The good thing about crisis is that most of the time, it forces company to find innovative way to keep good sales figure. It seems that most of US retailers are trying to make the best of Internet in order to battle during the economical downturn. Recently, I have posted an article on how Wall Mart was using the Internet in its strategy. Now a new article explains how retailers are considering Internet as a key way to maximize their sales during the crisis.

If traditional retailers have fought against the Internet at the beginning, they have understood how important a multi channel strategy was important to reach the customers.

Here are some online techniques illustrating this article, of retailers using the Internet:
As you can see, there are multiple ways to think about how to use the Internet to trigger sales both on and off line.

Shopping Centers To Reinvent Their Trade

On May, 13, I have attended a conference in Paris about new technologies in the shopping centers, organized by DMC. The purpose was to explore the use of new technologies to enhance the attractivity of shopping centers, whereas Internet is challenging their leadership. Many different use could be thought, especially to provide a greater customer experience, or to ease the buying process.

A lot of questions and topics have been raised, and will probably been used for further posts. But what clearly stood out, wad the necessity for the shopping center trade to change.

If shopping centers corporation core activity has been since the beginning to lend stores to businesses, and to create the visitors flow needed to help retails, the competition has become much more intense. A lot of possibilities are ahead of them.

But what is for sure is that shopping centers now need to create added value to improve customer experience, in order to remain attractive.

Shopping centers aren't dead, but they need to create more added value for retailers, and that goes through customer experience enhancement.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mobile To Transform Emailing campaigns

We have talked a lot about the new social media for marketing campaigns, but emailing still exist! Emailing marketing has faced some challenges.

Because emailing is a fairly unexpensive medium and easy to implement, a lot of advertisers used it, creating an overload of emails and spams. Therefore return on investment rates went down recently because of it.

Emailing isn't that cheap as it requires data base management in order to limit the crunch rate and spamming.

I believe emailing has a new chance to reinvent itself thanks to mobile devices. The mass market starts to be equiped with internet empowered handheld, and email consumption has hence been transformed. Emails can be used on the go, consulted at all time, and new functionality linked to the emails have sprung up.

Email marketing should therefore leverage these innovations and new behavior, to link Internet strategy and retail or customer experience.

E-couponing is on the rise, and I am sure there are tons of ideas to be found to get the best of these new possibilities.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May Customer Loyalty Be A Bad Thing?

CRM programs aim most of the time to create customer loyalty, in order to increase the benefits/customers. In fact, customer loyalty, in a stable market, has been thought as one of the only way to seek growth, as winning marketshares over competition might be costly.

Businessweek explains us that customer loyalty can be a bad thing at some point
, especially in the b-to-b market. Indeed, in order to establish a strong relationship, companies provide to its more loyal customers extra services and better promotions than the average ones. And this fact is more percievable in this economic downturn.

" In this down economy, customers in both B-to-B and B-to-C settings are naturally much more sensitive to economic issues. Furthermore, companies in B-to-B relationships are often more reliant on their vendor partners to help them shoulder this burden. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, and we as managers need to recognize that our job is to meet our customers' needs if we are to deserve their loyalty.

But the simple solution to improving customer loyalty in a down market is to offer price deals. In fact, firms that track their customer loyalty can be guaranteed that loyalty scores will increase with each substantial decrease in price all things being equal.

But that's a bad loyalty strategy. No, this doesn't mean we should not find ways to be more efficient so that we can pass cost savings on to our customers. But price-driven loyalty is always the lowest form of loyalty. It means that we aren't offering differentiated value to our customers."

Studies must be undertaken in order to see if customer relationship management efforts, in terms of extra services provided, remains profitable, compare to other customers which would not qualify for these types of programs. Customer loyalty of course must be managed, but in fact, it is not really customer loyalty that might be bad, but more the bid you could give them.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Direct Marketing Campaigns To Recruit Customers With Twitter

Tracy Cote explains on the DM News website how a direct marketing agency can use Twitter as an recruiting tool. A lot of marketing professionals are seeking for ways to leverage Twitter to generate business. Even myself has discussed a lot about the topic for the past year. Hence I have explained how Twitter could be used to address coupons and promotions.

How To Use Twitter As A Recruiting Tool
This article aims to define some rules for direct marketing agencies to use Twitter as a new medium for recruiting. Here are the steps of the article:
  1. Obvisouly, create a Twitter account for the company
  2. Master the art of Twitter, meaning 140 characters headlines. It is tough to keep it simple, but in marketing, the simpler the better (which is actually pretty hard)
  3. Use the Twitter search capacities to find out prospects. Now that Twitter has pretty good search engine, you'll be able to target the right customers.
That remains pretty raw...

Twitter For Customer Service
This is an interesting article, because actually, I have never really considered Twitter as a recruiting tool. I see many companies which created Twitter account in order to be followed by users, to propose their services. But I am really wondering if such a technique is efficient. In my opinion, Twitter is a great way to interact with your customers, but more adapted to a loyalty program, or a retail traffic tool, more than a recruiting tool.

By that, I mean I don't see users buying from a company because of a Twitter campaign, but more people following a brand they already know and that they are probably already buyers, to get discounts or be aware of any news and events. Actually Twitter is already used by many companies as a customer service tool.

Twitter Is A New Medium
What is for sure is that Twitter, Facebook status updates, and the other kinds of micro blogging are new media that companies need to deal with, thanks to a community management strategy. What this article underline, is that as a new medium is springing up, some new ways to use it as a marketing tool will appear. Will Twitter become a direct marketing tool to recruit customers? I doubt, but the question must be asked, and probably some further research need to be established.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Getting Social Media Into CRM

Social CRM
There are very few initiatives so far to integrate social media data into CRM (customer relationship management) database. In fact, it is very difficult to incorporate it on a technical point of view. In terms of customer relationship management strategy, it is crucial to integrate a community management approach, and consider social media as a new medium of interraction with customers.

How to integrate social media into CRM
The data contained into social media is complex. We probably need a semantic approach to get data used for CRM purpose. Moreover, social media contains lots of data in natural language, we need Natural Language Processing to help us extract meaningful data from them. One aspect that's gaining prominence is Sentiment Analysis that detects the sentiment of the person towards a product/service and thus can provide the info to the CRM system.

I've found this very interesting article. It explains that an ideal system would contain a blend of all three systems :
  • Semantic
  • Sentiment analysis & other NLP techniques
  • Direct data mapping
I believe this article shows well the issues CRM software will have to face to incorporate the social media data, and the keys for such an enterprise.

Will Customer Service Be A Victim Of The Crisis?

In such an economical downturn, I understand companies are looking for budget cuts. Even though many studies incentive companies to keep investing in marketing to gain market shares and keep the business running, I advocate more visibility on the return on investment is necessary.

Now, my own opinion is that a CRM strategy properly defined is a key success to go through a crisis. A proper CRM strategies could ease the purchase via financing offers. Also, a great CRM can help companies

A recent article on destination CRM exposes some companies are considering cutting budgets dedicated to customer services to enhance productivity. I just believe this is totally a wrong idea. Customers have limited their spending budgets. Probably a reorganization of those kind of departments could bring some synergies and ways to cut the costs, but customer service is a key to reassure customers and trigger the purchase.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Enterprise Feedback Management And Community Management

Enterprise Feedback Management is an integrated approach to the management of all forms of feedback available to an organization. Therefore, wether you reached the customer service through the website, a visit at the store or on the phone, enterprise feedback management will be able to qualify the quality of the interaction.

Media are becoming more and more complex. Therefore enterprise feedback management is a great component of a crm strategy since it analyses the interraction the company has with customers upon the media. A great feedback could drive changes in the multichannel strategy.

I believe that the new social media are becoming an actual medium, where customers can interact with the company. Therefore, it would be interesting for enterprise feedback management to analyse the interaction through this medium.

Hence, after an interaction with a community manager, the customer could be satisfied or experienced problems. I believe that enterprise feedback management companies could leverage this new medium to provide a greater service, analysing interraction within social media.

It would be pretty simple to implement such an initiative. That would imply creating a form where customers could share their experience and thoughts.

What do you think about it? Do you believe enterprise feedback management could become a part of community management?

Retails Reached The Bottom, Ready For Recession

The KPMG/Synovate Retail Think Tank (RTT) is establishing a report quarter after quarter to measure the health of retailers in the UK. You can access to the full report right here. Retails have suffered a lot those past months mainly since household spending budgets has been restricted with the crisis.

However, this article explains that retails have kept costs under control, allowing them to face the crisis with a more positive mindset. I have published recently a post about the 5 rules for retailing in recession and it seems they are fore sure the keys for retails to go through the economical downturn.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Community Management and CRM

I have talked a lot lately about community management. Companies become more aware about the importance of community management, and more and more of them have decided to create such a position.

Community management is very important on a customer relationship management (CRM) prospective. Communities are places where customers talk about your brand and products and where new ideas emerge. That is a reason why corporations must take advantage of it and add this component to their customer relationship management strategies.
I have already discussed on this blog about social score, which is a way to evaluate community members on a CRM point of view. There are also new tools to evaluate a community management strategies. Of course not all companies can dedicate a specific staff for community management but all of them could benefit in monitoring social media and leverage them for new business opportunities.

Now I believe there is still a great challenge in joining the CRM effort of companies, which manage internal data, with community management, which is difficult to integrate into a traditional CRM program as data is very dynamic.

I believe community management and customer relationship management are already linked together, and we are still discovering the potential of such a strategy.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Is Twitter Going Mainstream?

Twitter is probably the hottest web 2.0 service of the moment. If the social medium was only known by a few geek that were telling to the world most of the time not very interesting things, there is a big buzz springing up.

Some Hollywood stars now own their Twitter accounts: Hugh Jackman (Hugh Jackman Giving $100K to Charity via Twitter), Oprah Winfrey (Will Twitter See an “Oprah Effect”?) or Ashton Kutcher (How Oprah and Ashton have forever changed Twitter). Also, Twitter made the headlines of the NBA couple of weeks ago, for different reasons.

Now you can see some ads promoting Twitter accounts like above. And below, some major mobile phone service talking about Twitter use.

Now Twitter counts 14 million users, which is actually not that much compared to Facebook. Fred Cavazza thinks it sounds like a new Second Life kind of hype. I believe we are just seeing Twitter coming out of the geeks' sphere, and it is going mainstream. Now more and more people are using and defining the use of the serice. I just believe that Twitter might be a mainstream service and we'll talk more and more about that in the next few weeks. Actually, if you are a frenquent reader of this blog, you have probably noticed that Twitter has become a recurrent topic. I think it will remain so.