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Archive for November, 2010

Samsung Galaxy Tab is not ready to play iPad killer

As Samsung reported shipping over 600,000 units the first month after introduction, Galaxy Tab customers started to publish reports of their experiences with this exciting product on the online customer review sites and other social media venues. Not surprisingly many of them compare it to Apple iPod tablets.

A new study of 1,142 customer reviews available online, revealed that both tablets Customer Satisfaction exceeds customer expectations  by 17% and 15% respectively, which is well within margin of error. Both products fall short of customer expectations when it comes to Price/Value, however Galaxy Tab customers seem to think it offers better value and prefer its smaller size.

Galaxy Tab buyers are citing Android open platform and availability of Flash as critical reason for their purchasing decision, however Samsung and/or carriers poor customer support of this tablet may cause it fail to its claim of becoming an “iPad killer”.

Analysis Methodology: For this study we aggregated consumer-generated reviews published through November 26, 2010 on multiple popular public sites. This data was analyzed with our proprietary Opinion Miner software. The complete data set of competitive products, services and brands selected by Amplified Analytics’ customers is collected, monitored for updates, processed and analyzed through a paid arrangement. Source Data and attributes analysis for each model is available by request at info@amplifiedanalytics.com

Blackberry Torch vs Apple iPhone 4 – Battle for Customer Perception

In the latest twist in the ongoing battle between RIM and Apple for the hearts of customers, RIM managed to retake the No. 1 ranking in Customer Satisfaction

A new study of 14,701 customer reviews spanning 108 mobile phone models revealed that Blackberry phones gained ground by exceeding customer expectations 8% more than Apple iPhones.

The most interesting rivalry is developing between the latest popular offerings: Blackberry 9800 Torch and the iPhone 4-32GB. Torch is opening a significant lead in perception of Reliability and Customer Support. On the other hand, iPhone delights their customers with screen quality, design and software stability.

Analysis Methodology: For this study we aggregated consumer-generated reviews published through November 15, 2010 on multiple popular public sites. This data was analyzed with our proprietary Opinion Miner software. The complete data set of competitive products, services and brands selected by Amplified Analytics’ customers is collected, monitored for updates, processed and analyzed through a paid arrangement. Source Data and attributes analysis for each model is available by request at info@amplifiedanalytics.com

Here is the link to a full copy of this report

3 simple ideas for engaging your customers to sell your products

Many marketers are wrestling with practical implications of Social Media Marketing concept. One of the challenges is a lack of a clear and practical concept definition. Everyone seem to know what it means and doing “something” about it, but only very few can boast a provable and measurable success. I chose to focus on a specific subset of the SMM that in my opinion provides the most effective method on increasing sales without monumental budget requirements.

If you agree that consumers, and that include businesses in context of this conversation, fundamentally shop for “desirable outcome” and a shopping process is focused on risk reduction of achieving that outcome, you would probably see why the customer reviews are so important. Many marketers are often uncomfortable with an idea of funding a messaging effort without retaining control of the content, but that is precisely why this Media is called Social.  A customer review is usually a personal “story” describing how a person, who had expectations (possibly similar to yours) experienced reality of of their decision to purchase that product or service. A “negative” review can often sell your product or service more effectively by alleviating prospective customer’s fears because the review writer expectations were different from the the reader’s, the writer’s experience was closer to the reader’s desirable outcome, and negative tone gives the story a lot more credibility.

Let’s assume that I masterfully convinced you that customer reviews, under curtain conditions, provide sizable uplift in sales. If you don’t buy this line of reasoning there is some research on that subjects which supports the premise. You can find here and here. If you knew it all along, you are more interested in what are the “certain conditions”, and how exactly do you get your customers to write these reviews.

Humans communicate by telling the stories – stars (Liekert scales and such), attribute ratings and any other attempts to filter and organize customer reviews, are helpful, but they often fail to produce sales uplift if used excessively. They distract consumers from reading the “stories” and prevent them from personal engagement. The idea of engaging customers in writing more reviews by offering them “fill in the blank” forms often leads to waste and distrust as consumers, who look for this product reviews, feel cheated when they land on the product page with  pre-fabricated, check box reviews.

Number of reviews is critically important for production of sales uplift. There is no exact, magic number that would guarantee the desired effect as it is highly contextual to the complexity of the product or service and its price (i.e. risk involved). Too few reviews for a product may make it look not credible to many consumers, and too many reviews may intimidate some from even making the decision. The latter case could possibly be mitigated by thoughtful “filtering” mechanisms and it is not a problem for most marketers. Only a very small number of customers are engaged enough to write a review. I “mashed” TV units shipped data from iSuppli Market Research with a number of reviews for these TV brands available online to come with an average that is well below 1%.

Engaging your customers to write more reviews is probably the most challenging task. There is no shortcuts here. Any marketers who succumbed to a “brilliant” idea of planting reviews written by not-customers should know that it is illegal ( it was successfully prosecuted in NY),  it produce adverse effects, and did I mention that it is not ethical? Misleading social media seeding techniques have become so widespread that the European Union enacted Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations to protect the public from the most deceitful activities.

To do it right you need to understand why customers write the reviews on the first place. What are the motivations? There are a few studies conducted by Cone Research and others that delved into this subject. When you understand what motivates very few of your customers to write the reviews you need to select appropriate existing interaction points between your company and a customer, such as warranty registration process or scheduled maintenance, to ask them for it. The way you communicate the request is very important and has to loop back to the motivations. If you ask for endorsement or referral – you miss the mark and fail in this Social Media Marketing class.

Content Wars in Historic perspective

This is an attempt to put the content business disruption that came into our experience with development of Internet distribution channel.

There is no secret for anyone today that business models of modern content management companies are being violently disrupted. However it seem to me that the arguments on both sides are missing some of the root causes of the disruption. At least I have not encountered anybody making this point before.

Business of charging units of economic value (money) for consumption of content, such as book, newspaper, music recording or film, is relatively new business model in terms of historic perspective. It only became available with advent of industrialization, i.e. nearly 200 years ago. Before that time the mass re-production of content for consumption was not economically viable as manual re-production methods were not scalable, potential customers did not have ability to consume yet as they had no money to pay, leisure time to consume or ability to consume (read). At these times only organized religions and states could afford to produce content, because the content they produced helped them to “market” (i.e. enforce) their economic and administrative powers.

It all started to change with invention of printing press that heralded appearance of “unofficial” content we call literature. Traditional purveyors of content surely tried to participate in democratization of printed word, however even small members of literate market, given the choice preferred the content of higher quality and started to support economically market oriented content production.

Given relatively fast (historically speaking) economical development of industrial societies, the availability of leisure time and common literacy quickly produced strong demand for content with a cost of production lagging behind. That is when a content became the king. Any content would sell regardless of its quality and the content packaging, distribution and marketing machinery of publishing, news and studios was born.

When Internet distribution platform started to threaten this machinery, two currents have merged:
1. Economics of scalable distribution no longer required massive capital for logistics and marketing, as realities of digital distribution and consumption eliminated them;
2. The production of content started to meet, and exceed the demand. This manifested itself in demand for higher quality content as oppose to any content.

This second point is really worth further exploration. Consider music record model – create one hit and market it to stimulate the demand, package it with 9 or 10 mediocre tracks, and sell them at the price of an album to produce healthy royalties and profits even after the cost of printing, tracking, retail selling and unsold inventory destruction. And this worked until the market became flooded with too much mediocre music and costs of marketing became too difficult to bare. Enter digital distribution that does not need to support legacy infrastructure and enable customers to buy only the track they want. Industry cannot exist on $.99 price per track (unit of content) and internal cost of royalties distribution of $2.99 per album. And it will not, but we will end up with better music quality and only truly creative artists who are and will be rewarded. Perhaps not as lavishly as they were in very short era of misbalanced supply and demand, but this era only lasted for a few decades and before that the artists were starving.

Take this logic to the newspaper publishing business and you will see that the pattern is repeated. The quality of the news content kept deteriorating to reduce cost of content creation while marketing and re-production costs kept growing until people started to read blogs instead because their content became more interesting. Truly gifted, creative and honest journalists are finding the consumers for their content that allow them to monetize that content. The opinionated political pundits of each persuasion seem to find their respective niches without any editorial oversight because people who “buy” their content do not care whether it is the “truth” as certified by self-important authority.

The book market seem “frothy” now with everybody and anybody is publishing books that are supposedly doing well on numerous lists. Some of them are very good, but most make think that the tree was killed for no good reason. I wonder how long will this last?

The point I am trying to make is that digital distribution based on internet protocols and platforms will make a content a true king, but not just any content, the great content only.

Blackberry Torch wins 2010 Piplzchoice Award

As of this date Piplzchoice Award research is read by 15,126 people. In this study we analyzed Mobile Phones. We are currently tracking 98 products in these categories and analyzed 7,529 reviews written by their customers. However some of these products have not accumulated enough reviews to produce statistically representative and accurate metrics, so we filtered them out of the competition. The second round disqualified any product that failed to meet Customer Expectations with its Functionality, Reliability or Support.

Blackberry Torch 9800 is a newcomer that quickly captured the top spot for it’s Functionality and Reliability reputation.

RIM Blackberry Torch 9800
2010 Piplzchoice Award winner
59% above average Customer Satisfaction in its Category
The winners are chosen by their customers

This Phone’ Reliability score is 42% higher than the category average. See mobile phone brands analysis study below. For the free full copy of this study contact greg@amplifiedanalytics.com

Interactive timeline of CRM software industry

Today’s customer relationship management (CRM) software is a far cry from the computerized rolodexes of the ’80s. Through a series of technological innovations and modifications, CRM has become one of the fastest growing segments of ERP software. AMI-Partners, a technology research firm, reports continuous growth for CRM in the next year, particularly in the area of SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) deployments.
How will this industry continue to expand and evolve in the future? We may be able to glean insights by looking at the historical trends of the market. Software Advice, an online resource for software buyers, has developed an interactive timeline displaying the history of the CRM software industry.
The timeline highlights major innovations, acquisitions and game-changers that have brought the industry to its present state. CRM market analyst, Lauren Carlson, has developed the timeline through research and consultations with industry thought leaders. She identifies 18 key dates throughout the history of CRM software, but she is hoping to expand it for more comprehensive coverage. This is where you come in. If there are important dates or events that you feel should be added, feel free to contact her by email:lauren@softwareadvice.com.
Software Advice is an online resource that presents reviews and comparisons of customer relationship management (CRM) software. Using their website, buyers can research CRM systems, download comparison tools and access best practices articles on how to select software. Additionally, buyers can contact Software Advice’s team of experts for a free phone consultation and software needs analysis. Finally, Software Advice maintains a CRM software blog with up-to-date news and analysis on industry developments.