Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Wonderful and Weird world of Twitter


Using Twitter is like "Alice in Wonderland", its wonderful and weird

Its a wonderful tool that can be private or public or both, corporate or personal or both, logical or illogical or both well hopefully you get the point.

So here are 5 reasons why I think its wonderful ... and weird

#1 - Wonderful cause I can keep in touch with my network and if I feel like shouting out "I need caffeine" on a Wed afternoon I can. Weird cause now I can see virtual colleagues shout out about things like "Gummy Bears".

#2 - Wonderful cause it allows me to communicate with friends and family quickly and easily at the same time. Did you know that you could "direct message" someone by putting "d username message". Weird that Twitter allows me to do the same thing I used to did with my IM status a few years ago and yet its so much more engaging and powerful.

#3 - Wonderful cause with Twitter I can open conversations with people in my industry or area without having to visit tradeshows or events or ever having to meet them in reality. Well you might say that no big deal cause more collaboration and networking tools allow that. Weird cause its a best response I've seen from complete strangers wanting to engage in a short 140char conversation.

#4 - Wonderful cause I can now get all my news from the likes of Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan et al. Weird cause it makes me wonder if they realize how much folks like me rely on them to feed me tidbits ;-)

#5 - Wonderful cause big media and spammers have still not figured out how to abuse Twitter (blatantly). Nothing weird about that, its cool.

... and all this is with very few Following and Followers.

I'm not sure if you need 1000's of followers or need to follow 1000's on Twitter to get value out of it. Though I can clearly see folks in sales and marketing doing that, especially those that might be companies of "1" or "they" are the brand.

If harnessed appropriately Twitter or micro-blogging tools like Twitter can be yet another amazing collaboration and productivity channel within an enterprise. Imagine mgr's using it to keeping in touch with their large distributed team's, Smaller teams leveraging it to stay tight, sales or project teams updating each other, salespeople using it to mine and harvest, marketing using it to drive messages and test the mood.

For me Twitter fills the gap between an IM and a Message Board or Email Group.

Speaking of email groups I wonder when Microsoft starts offering micro-blogging as part of Hotmail or Outlook + MSN Live or Sharepoint for internal use. I use them as an example cause they have the tools and web properties to make this happen. Imagine you could tweet through Hotmail or Outlook and create your network or look up tweets on MSN Live later.
Thunderbird could do that as well, except they don't have a web property like that to persist the network and content. The only other company that I can see doing this is Google with Gmail as the client and one of their properties. Wouldn't that be cool.

The only downside I see for that is that Twitter today supports umpteen clients and something like that from Microsoft or Google might not.

Ah the wonderful world of Twitter.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Predicting the "Savables" from your Profitable Customers


Read this interesting article "Predictive Analytics Can Pinpoint Profitable Customers" on DestinationCRM that is based on a Forrester report "Optimizing Customer Retention Programs" by Suresh Vittal. While I haven't read the report yet, this article really got me thinking.

In a slowing or contracting market new customers are hard to come by so the focus often turns to retaining existing customers. Of those existing ones the smart marketing guys soon narrow down to the profitable ones. Now this is where this new report makes it interesting. They further segment profitable customers into segments based on the likelihood of their response;

  • "Savables": Receiving an offer won't induce these customers to leave, but not receiving one might. This is the group that marketers must focus on.  
  • "Sleeping dogs": An unwelcome marketing campaign can provoke this group to end the relationship altogether.
  • "Sure things": Customers who don't need to receive offers to stay.
  • "Lost causes": Customers who will leave regardless of the offer.
Of these the Savables are the ones where marketers should focus their dollars and that segment can be further split into sub-segments or customers as well since not everyone is equally savable.

Now this is where it can get tricky predicting behavior cause how do you determine that a "Savable" is not a "Sleeping Dog". I'm assuming that macro-trends matching the consumers profile might be one determining criteria, however it might actually be more interesting for companies to analyze their own pipeline and sales order trends to determine how successful they've been in selling to or converting these "Savables" after a campaign. I'll try getting into the report to determine what Forrester thinks might be determining factors for each of these segments.

But will surely keep an eye out on more about the Uplift model as we market through the current economy.