HR technology trending in a Web 2.0 direction

More companies are incorporating Web 2.0 technologies such as social networking tools, blogs and webcasts for internal communications and as part of their overall technology mix, according to Watson Wyatt’s 2009 HR Technology Trends Survey.

Some key findings:

  • Since the economic downturn began, 72% of employers have increased their use of an intranet and 61% have increased their use of email to communicate with employees.
  • Newer technologies have made a strong entrance, finding that 32% of companies increased their use of webcasts, 13% have increased their use of social netowrking tools and 12% have increased their use of blogs for communication.
  • Many organizations continue to use manual processes for talent management, including succession planning (53%), career development (48%) and workforce planning (55%).
  • More than half (56%) of organizations are planning to increase their use of talent management technology over the next two years.
  • Companies are most rapidly adopting role-based employee portals (personalized to the user). Survey results show 41% of companies have already deployed or are piloting role-based employee portals and 24% are planning to adopt them in the next 24 months.

“Web 2.0 technologies work well, in most instances, for targeting specific employee and manager groups, and companies are using them in appropriate situations,” said Jon Osborne, senior technology consultant at Watson Wyatt.

“Using tools such as role-based portals, internal blogs and webcasts ensures that both managers and employees can send and receive tailored messages in an engaging format. This is useful for improving productivity and maintaining employee morale and engagement, particularly in this difficult economic time.”

Twitter to swim with the big fishes in business marketing

Most of the Twitter users who use it to promote their small business expect their company’s use of the popular microblogging tool to increase during the next six months, according to a recent survey by MarketingProfs.

The informal survey revealed that the practice of using Twitter as a business tool is gaining acceptance as an important piece of social media marketing. According to the MarketingProfs survey, 84% of respondents say their company’s use of Twitter will increase, with 46% saying the increase will be by a “significant” margin.

Twitter as a business tool

Twitter as a business tool

Compared to other social media tools, Twitter ranks second only to company blogs in perceived value. Company blogs and Twitter still rank ahead of LinkedIn and Facebook.

“This data shows that Twitter users, typically early adopters, no longer think of Twitter as just a personal networking tool, but as something that can provide real value for their company or business,” said Ann Handley, chief content officer for MarketingProfs. “Much like Facebook, Twitter is now moving into the business mainstream.” Additional Twitter research from MarketingProfs revealed that Twitter users are primarily motivated by the learning and immediacy components of the application. (MarketingCharts)

Twitter as a business tool

Twitter as a business tool

Vendor/client relationship in real life, sad but true

It’s something we’ve all have to deal with at one point or another – a not-so-balanced vendor/client relationship. If you’ve ever struggled on either side of the equation, you’ll appreciate the sad but true scenarios played out in the video below. Enjoy!

Effective list-growth tactics for B2B marketers

On-site registration and capturing information through call centers are the most effective email list-growth tactics for marketers, according to research by ExactTarget, Ball State University and the Email Marketers Club.

List rentals and outbound call-center attempts to solicit information are the least effective tactics, according to the email marketing research.

“Overall, the study found that the best way to grow email subscriber lists is to collect customers’ email addresses during times of high engagement and on occasions when the consumers’ perceive the marketer as adding value – at the point of sale, during online shopping and in-store via text messaging. These on-site list growth tactics rated as much as 60% higher than offline methods such as list rental and mass advertising.” (MarketingCharts)

Email subscription via text messaging is forecasted to grow by at least 500% in the next year, more than any other growth tactic, according to ExactTarget. They also predict that the practice of enabling subscribers to share email content with others in their social networks will increase almost 350% in 2009.

What are marketers’ top priorities for 2009?

  • 51% wanted to improve conversations
  • 41% will focus on improving email relevance
  • 38% are concerned with growing email lists
  • 5% list lowering costs as a top priority

The study also found a major rift in B2B vs. B2B email marketing. It turns out that B2B marketers are more successful in driving new subscriptions with ‘incentivized’ registration, while B2C marketers find more success with ‘non-incentivized’ subscriptions.

“The best performing list growth tactics are built on gathering subscriber data rather than hunting for it,’ said Morgan Stewart, ExactTarget’s director of research and strategy. “Whether you are a B2B or a B2C marketer, the best way to grow your subscriber list is to collect information during customer-initiated interactions.” (Marketing Charts)

Email list-growth tactics for marketers

Email list-growth tactics for marketers

If the Pope can 2.0, so can you

Pope2you

Pope2you

Think your company is too top-down, too conservative or too traditional to get involved in social media? Think again.

You’re never too anything to get involved in the conversation.

Seriously, if the Pope can do it, so can you. On the Pope’s new web site (http://pope2you.net), visitors can connect with other followers using his Facebook application, wiki, iPhone app and even the Vatican’s YouTube channel.

Get out there and answer the social phone, because your customers are talking about you whether you like it or not.

(Thanks to Workplace Learning Today for bringing it to our attention.)

Direct mail’s death by email

The latest reports on direct mail show that it’s doomed, eternally doomed.

What’s to blame for direct mail’s sad demise? Email and online coupons.

“The kudzu-like creep of the Internet is about to claim its third analog victim,” according to the latest research report from research firm Borrell Associates.

“Direct mail has begun spiraling into what we believe is a precipitous decline from which it will never fully recover,” Borrell predicts. More specifically, it is projecting a 39% decline for direct mail over the next five years, from $49.7 billion in annual ad spending in 2008 to $29.8 billion by the end of 2013. (MediaPost)

If Borrell’s predictions pan out, direct mail will no longer be the top placeholder for ad revenue and will fall to the fourth spot. The leaders will then be the Web, broadcast TV and newspapers.

“Email advertising is indeed skyrocketing while its traditional counterpart plummets,” Borrell notes. “In fact, last year, email advertising quietly moved to the No. 1 online ad category spot, surpassing all other forms of interactive advertising.” Last year, advertisers spent $12.1 billion on email marketing, more than they spent on display/banner advertising or search advertising.

The firm is also forecasting that most of the growth in email marketing will be local. Borrell expects local email advertising to grow from $848 million in 2008, to an estimated $2 billion in 2013.

However, the report also warns against jumping into email marketing without being prepared for potential risks.

“Managing large e-mail marketing campaigns require database marketing expertise, a savvy sales force, adequate e-mail management software, familiarity with the rules and regulations and a lot of patience.”

Eyetracking study reveals enlightening online tactics

Enlightening eytracking study

Enlightening eytracking study

Want to know whether your homepage layout is effective? Or if readers prefer short paragraphs over long ones? And if your ads are in the best place to be noticed by your audience?

Take a few minutes out of your day and read over the latest findings from Eyetrack III (via ProBlogger and the Direct Creative Blog). Their research could give your team a better idea of where to start and what to fix when it comes to your Web site design.

You can check out the full article for a complete overview of their findings, but here are some of the main points:

Headlines first, then pictures. When people first land on a page, they tend to look at dominant headlines before looking at pictures. Headlines located in the upper left of the page got the most attention.

The first few words in a headline are most important. A headline will grab less than a second of a visitor’s attention and it appears that the first few words need to be the most eye-catching. People scan the first couple words before deciding to read on.

Use large type for scanning, small type for closer reading. Smaller type is harder to read, so visitors have to focus when they want to find out more. As always, large type should be used for headlines to allow for easy scanning.

Short paragraphs have a better chance of being read than longer ones. Long paragraphs, especially on the Web, look difficult to read. Short paragraphs are more appealing.

Ads in the top and left portions of a homepage get the most attention. Our eyes tend to look at the upper left of a page when we first arrive on it.

Bigger ads are better. Bigger ads have a better chance of being seen. When ads are also placed next to popular content they’ll generally get more attention.