Here are some interesting XM and online marketing news items and links for your perusal:
- Gray, Affluent and Online: A couple weeks ago I shared a report that revealed affluent consumers are "flocking" to online social networks. Today's MediaPost reports that older, affluent consumers continue to grow, online and off. The group, which they label "graying and affluent," has grown from 13.1% to 15.7% of all households (in the 80 metro markets surveyed) since 2004. Almost two-thirds of these people reported making an online purchase in the last year, up from 50.2% four years earlier. And though it seems redundant to note this about a group that carries the label "affluent," these folks have cash: The households with liquid assets of $100,000 or more increased from 49.5% to 53.6% of this group and those with $250,000 or more increased from 25.2% to 30.2%. You'd think people with high discretionary income would draw more attention from marketers, but evidence shows this group is not getting marketing focus proportionate to their numbers online.
- Online Focus Groups: In an article entitled "Focus on Blogs," Adweek labels just about everything a "blog" and everyone a "blogger." It's at first confusing, but once you realize they are talking not about bloggers but about participants in focused, moderated, short-lifespan communities, the article becomes an interesting read on how companies are overcoming some of the typical problems of in-person focus groups (short duration, overpowering members, etc.) using online communities. One company specializing in these sorts of extended, online focus groups recruits people who can participate once or twice a day over a period of a couple of weeks. Agency employees help to initiate discussions, interject provocative ideas, add new questions and "know when to step back." Says one exec, "You are not there to moderate a discussion between the participants and yourself, you are there to moderate a conversation among people." Check out the entire article on Adweek.
- Starbucks Not Talking to Consumers Over Their Cup of Coffee: I've mentioned the My Starbucks Idea site several times. Starbucks is one of the first companies to turn the old suggestion box into an online social community, and the success or failure of this site is being closely monitored by other brands. Going Social Now has some worthwhile criticisms of the effort. Shiv Singh notes, "Starbucks doesn't participate in the conversation. That's disappointing. If you expect your customers to help you, you should be willing to participate in their conversation. Not stand by silently or only speak from a pulpit." As noted here on on E:TB, social media is interactive; Starbucks is giving consumers the means to interact without committing any of themselves to interacting.
- Become a music mogul, $10 at a time: A couple weeks ago I wrote about an artist who took her own "minipreneurship" approach to raising funds for her new album; today's TechCrunch has an article about a site bringing this approach to other up and coming bands. Sellaband, which just received $5 million funding, permits music fans to invest $10 in an artist they want to back. If the artist gets to 5,000 ‘believers,’ the artist receives $50,000 to record an album and each fan gets a limited edition CD. If the artist doesn’t reach $50,000, the fans can get their money back or give it to another artist. It's a smart idea and I certainly appreciate the populist approach to music financing, but it will be interesting to see if enough fans are willing to pony up.
- The Four I's of Engagement: I'm not sure it really advances the discussion of what engagement is or how to measure it, but Forrester has a thought provoking blog post about the Four I's of Engagement: involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence. They describe each at a high level, but even though they call these "metrics," there is little indication how these four categories are measured or work together. Perhaps the full Forrester report contains more, but even without the membership required to access the details, you may find this an interesting framework for exploring the topic of consumer engagement.