marketing mix

Managing Marketing Content Across the Customer Life Cycle

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Considering our purpose as marketers, we should be placing customers at the center of our marketing efforts. That’s truer today than ever before, because customers have more choices, more control, more ways to connect, and more access information. No wonder marketers everywhere are scrambling to develop content and make use of the myriad of channels to reach and connect with prospects and customers. 

Many marketers have gotten so caught up in the creation of content, however, that they have forgotten how important it is to match marketing content with the customer buying journey and life cycle. Content delivered in the right channel at the wrong time can be a wasted touch point. 

Too few marketers have mapped their customer’s buying journey and moved from profiles to personas, and therefore few clearly understand their customer’s life cycle. Because keeping a customer is more cost effective and profitable than acquire a new customer, knowing both the buying journey and the customer life cycle is important.  

The Customer Life Cycle 

One common definition of customer lifecycle is “the progression of steps a customer goes through when considering, purchasing, using, and maintaining loyalty to a product or service.” The key point is to recognize that the life cycle defines an ongoing relationship and continuous dialogue. 

Forrester defines the customer life cycle as follows: “The customers’ relationship with a brand as they continue to discover new options, explore their needs, make purchases, and engage with the product experience and their peers.” In our company, we talk about the Six Cs associated with this process: 

1. Contact 

2. Connection 

3. Conversation 

4. Consideration 

5. Consumption 

6. Community 

Whether you use this approach or another, the premise of the customer life cycle is the same: Capture potential and existing customers’ attention, preference, purchase, and loyalty. 

As marketers, we can and should use the customer lifecycle as the basis for every marketing investment decision we make that’s designed to acquire, retain, up-sell, cross-sell, and create customer advocates. Only by understanding the customer life cycle can marketers make better decisions about the additional marketing investments of time, people, and cash on customer-targeted efforts. 

Content and Life Cycle 

The purpose of content marketing is to deliver high-quality, relevant, and valuable information to prospects and customers in the right channel at the right time to drive profitable customer action. Content marketing is not the same as running a campaign. Content marketing looks more like publishing, where you serve as the architect of useful and compelling information that will inform, educate, engage, and entertain customers and prospects. Content marketing is part of the marketing mix, not a substitute for it. 

If you serve more than one market or region, and your product requires a consultative approach, you will likely have multiple customers and will therefore need to map content to multiple buying journeys and life cycles. Perhaps the following examples will help bring this point home. 

Let’s say you currently market and sell a technology product to IT buyers and decision-makers in the federal government. Your research suggests that there may be a strong growth opportunity in the Emergency 911 system—a quasi-governmental system. If you didn’t map the customer buying journey, you might assume that the buying process for the Emergency System was the same as for any other government agency. And you might also assume that the profile of the IT buyer at these sites would be the same as the IT buyer at the agency. Only by mapping the buying process would you learn that these are two very different personas and two different buying processes with different marketing content implications. White papers and tradeshows may be far more important in the early stages of the government-agency buying process, whereas webinars and videos of the system in use are more important in the early stages of the buying process for the emergency services sites. 

How can we record this process when most customer buying journeys and lifecycles are not linear? Though it is impossible to completely capture and monitor the entire buying journey and decision, mapping the process helps you capture channel preferences and interactions. You may not be able to know exactly which colleague, analyst, online and offline channels a customer used, or which publication informed the decision, but mapping the buying journey and customer life cycle will give you insight into when and how they are influenced. 

Mapping the Journey and Life Cycle 

The approaches to mapping differ. Regardless of the approach you take, you should include input from all internal people who are in contact with customers (Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, and Product Marketing) as well as input from the customers themselves. The mapping process should take into account the following: 

  • Initial triggers that lead to first contact 
  • Steps they take (industry reports, product reports and reviews, white papers, demos, etc.) and the conversations (analysts, colleagues, event encounters, call centers, salespeople, etc.) they engage in to solve their problem and find a specific solution 
  • Steps and experiences leading up to their purchase (the RFP, reference calls, pilots, etc.) 
  • Steps associated with the purchase and consumption (the on-boarding process, purchasing processes, implementation, invoicing, etc.) 
  • Ongoing experience and reaction to their purchase (problem resolution process, new product offers, community participation opportunities, etc.) 

 Once you’ve mapped the process and organized each step into the appropriate stage, you can begin to match marketing content with the buying process and life cycle. Two important benefits of the mapping initiative are improved Marketing and Sales alignment and a more behaviorally based opportunity-qualification process. 

Matching Mix, Content, Channel, and Life Cycle 

The links between marketing activities, content, and the customer buying process and life cycle will become clearer once you complete the mapping process. You’ll realize that different programs and content will be more valuable and appropriate at different stages depending on the customer process. The map will serve as a guideline for improving the utility of your mix and the content you use to connect and engage with customers and prospects, as well as to enhance existing customer relationships. 

For example, you may learn from the mapping process that traditional in-person events and presentations are far more valuable at creating contacts and connections for a specific segment than social media and blogs are. Your map may reveal that webinars with industry experts are a viable touch point for consideration for some customer segments while online chats with existing customers and traditional telemarketing are more effective for other segments. Through the process, you may learn that traditional e-newsletters are ideal for staying connected with one set of customers, whereas an online community with guest posts is better for another. Marketing will then need to select the program and build the content that supports the preferred channel for particular touch points in the process. 

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Power Up Your Marketing to Prove Business Value

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Numerous studies throughout 2012 reiterated just how challenged marketers are in proving
Marketing’s business value.

The Capsicum Report found that “Marketers lack commercial acumen and don’t speak the language of the business, reporting their contributions in terms of ‘activities’ or ‘outputs’ rather than the business key performance indicators.”

The Economist Intelligence Unit reported that “the CMO’s traditional dilemma of demonstrating effectiveness, return on marketing investment, and relevance to the business still persists.”

The Forrester Evolved CMO study stated that “to prove their value and justify investment, they (CMOs) must tie marketing closer to business results.”

The 11th annual marketing performance management study conducted by VisionEdge Marketing and ITSMA reported a continuing trend of the C-Suite’s perception that only about 25% of marketers are able to demonstrate their impact and contribution to the business.

Some marketers, though, are cracking the code, and we can learn lessons from them as we work to power up our marketing.

One of the key differences about the stellar performers is that these marketers view and present themselves as businesspeople first. This elite group is customer-centric above all else, and it’s driven to transforming or establishing Marketing as a center of excellence within the organization.

These marketers work at ensuring that Marketing focuses on producing results that matter to the business, particularly in customer acquisition, retention, and value, and they are able to communicate those contributions in ways that are relevant to the C-Suite.

These marketers consistently apply five best-practices:

1. Aligning marketing activities and investments with business outcomes

2. Developing outcome-based metrics and reporting capabilities to demonstrate their
accountability

3. Employing and developing analytical skills

4. Investing in the infrastructure, processes, and systems to support their work

5. Building collaborative alliances with Finance, IT, and Sales colleagues.

They also recognize that deploying those best-practices is only part of the equation for boosting their performance and measurement competencies. They realize that playing a more strategic role takes added muscle, which they build by…

  • Embracing strong talent, balancing creativity with science derived from valuable customer and market insights
  • Emphasizing innovation for all aspects of marketing—related to strategy, implementation, processes, and so on.

Every organization can benefit from adding such power and muscle to their marketing team:

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Take a look at  the most recent 2013 Marketing Performance Management Report: Executive Summary (FREE DOWNLOAD) or Purchase the Full Report at the VisionEdge Marketing Online Store!

Measuring Relevancy: A Three Step Approach for Linking Content and Behavior

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Various studies over the years have examined the relationship between content relevancy and behavior. Almost everyone would agree that content must be relevant. But what is relevance? According to Wikipedia: “Relevance describes how pertinent, connected, or applicable something is to a given matter.” A thing is relevant if it serves as a means to a given purpose.Image

In the context of this discussion, the purpose of content is to positively influence customer or employee behavior, such as increasing purchase frequency, purchase velocity (time to purchase), likelihood to recommend, productivity, etc.

When we ask marketers and others how they measure content relevancy, we often hear, “We base it on response rate.” If the response rate meets the target, then we assume the content is relevant; if response doesn’t meet the target, we assume it’s not relevant.

Clearly there is a relationship between relevance and response. Intuitively we believe that the more relevant the content, the higher the response will be. But measuring response rate is not the best measure of relevancy. Many factors can affect response rate, such as time of year, personalization, and incentives. Also, in today’s multi-channel environment, we want to account for responses or interactions beyond what we might typically measure, such as click-throughs or downloads.

So, what is the best way to measure relevancy?

The best-practice approaches for measuring relevancy are many, and many of them are complex and require modeling. For example, information diagrams are an excellent tool. But marketers, who are usually spread thin, need a simpler approach.

The following three steps provide a way to tie interaction (behavior) with content. It’s critical
that you have a good inventory of all your content and a way to define and count interactions, because once you do, you’ll be able to create a measure of relevancy.

The process and equation include the following:

1. Count every single piece of content you created this week (new Web content, emails,
articles, tweets, etc.). We’ll call this C.

2. Count the collective number of interactions (opens, click-throughs, downloads, likes,
mentions, etc.) for all of your content this week from the intended target (you’ll need to
have clear definitions for interactions and a way to only include intended targets in your
count). We’ll call this I.

3. Divide total interactions by total content created to determine Relevancy: R = I/C
To illustrate the concept, let’s say you are interested in increasing conversations with a particular set of buyers. As a result, this week you undertook the following content activities:

• Posted a new whitepaper on a key issue in your industry to your website and your
Facebook page
• Tweeted three times about the new whitepapers
• Distributed an email with a link to the new whitepaper to the appropriate audience
• Published a summary of the whitepaper to three LinkedIn Groups
• Held a webinar on the same key issue in your industry
• Posted a recording of the webinar on your website, SlideShare, and Facebook page
• Held a tweet chat during the webinar
• Tweeted the webinar recording three times
• Posted a blog on the topic to your blog

We’ll count those as 17 content activities.

For that very same content, during the same week, you had the following interactions:

• 15 downloads of the whitepaper from your site
• 15 retweets of the whitepaper
• 15 Likes from your LinkedIn Groups and blog page
• 25 people who attended the webinar and participated in the tweet chat
• 15 retweets of the webinar
• 15 views of the recording on SlideShare

That’s a total of 100 interactions. It’s likely that some of these interactions are from the same people engaging multiple times, and you may eventually want to account for that likelihood in your equation. But, for starters, we can now create a content relevancy measure:

R= 100/17 = 5.88.

Using the same information, had we measured only the response rate, we might have counted only the downloads and attendees—40 responses—so we might have had the following calculation:

R = 40/17 = 2.353

As you can see, the difference is significant.

By collecting the interaction data over time, we will be able to understand the relationship between the relevancy and the intended behavior, which in this example is increased “conversations.”

I strongly encourage you to consider relevancy as a key measure for your content marketing. By tracking relevancy, you will be able to not only set benchmarks and performance targets for your content but also model content relevancy for intended behavior.

Be a Better Event Organizer

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Lately, we have seen an increase in two requests from event organizers: send a customer to speak instead of you and/or speak for free. While made with the best of intentions, these requests are at the very least rude and at worst portray organizations as unprofessional. Why are these seemingly innocuous requests rude?Image

Mack Collier of The Viral Garden has articulated why it is wrong to ask experts to speak for free, saying that good speakers spend days creating material and preparing for a presentation. He estimated that he spends “anywhere from 15 to 30 hours preparing/rehearsing the presentation, and loses a minimum of one day due to travel, usually two days.” This is a big investment of time for anyone — and for experts, time is money. A good event organizer will not ask a speaker to speak for free and they will cover travel costs. Speakers understand the need to offset costs by giving speaking slots to sponsors. But sponsors are advertisers. Just because someone paid for a sponsorship doesn’t mean they have the expertise you need.

As someone who has organized numerous events, my goal is to secure speakers who provide the expertise participants will benefit from. The speaker’s expertise should be lending credibility and value to your event. Framing the event as a business development opportunity for the speaker is unprofessional; the reason to select speakers is for the value they bring to your program. A good speaker is not there to make a sales pitch; rather, to educate, entertain, and/or motivate the audience.

The second request is to substitute a customer as an expert. The underlying message is “you are good enough to do the work for a company but not good enough to speak at our event.” This request places the experts and their customers in a very difficult situation — who pays for the customer’s travel since many companies’ travel budgets have become restrictive, who prepares the presentation, who preps the customer since they are not experts, how do they handle Q&A’s, what if a company commitment comes up and they need to bail, and so on.

This kind of request often results in the experts paying travel for both the customer and
themselves, preparing the presentation since the customer doesn’t have the time or expertise, and having do a dive and catch when the customer has a last-minute schedule conflict. It also creates schedule challenges for dry runs, which can negatively impact the event attendees’ experience. It is easy to see that this particular request creates an enormous amount of work and additional costs for the experts and additional work for their customers with no payoff for either party.

In today’s environment, customers want to use their limited resources to reach their prospects and customers, to grow their businesses. Their time is money, too, and they want to invest where they will see the best return. If you want to be a better event organizer, stop making these two requests of the experts who can add tremendous value to your event.

Does Your Marketing Team Have the Right Stuff?

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The 
Right 
Stuff,
 a
 1979 
book 
by 
Tom
 Wolfe, 
chronicled 
the 
sequence
 of 
events 
bridging 
the 
breaking 
of
 the
 sound
barrier 
and 
the 
Mercury 
space
 expeditions.
 The 
book 
(and 
subsequent
 movie)
 explored
 why
 the 
Mercury 
astronauts
 accepted 
the
 danger
 of
 space
flight,
 as 
well
 as 
the 
mental
 and 
physical 
skills
 required 
of 
them 
to 
do 
their 
job—in 
other 
words,
 the 
”right 
stuff.”Image

Recent 
studies 
suggest
 the 
need 
for 
many 
marketing 
professionals to
 re‐skill
 and 
re-tool.
 Only 
about 
5
 percent 
of 
marketers 
surveyed 
in 
a 
recent 
CMO 
Council 
study 
are 
highly
 satisfied 
with
 their 
levels 
of
 accountability, 
operational
 visibility,
 and 
marketing 
output. 
Most 
see 
plenty
 of 
room 
for 
improvement.

So what skills
 and 
tools
 are 
needed for 
your 
organization 
to 
have 
the 
right stuff?

Regardless
 of 
company 
size 
and 
industry, marketing 
teams 
(whether
 a 
team
 of
 one
 or 
more) 
are under 
increased
 pressure 
to
 drive 
top‐line
 growth 
and
 profitable 
revenue. 
For 
many
 organizations
 this
 means 
acquiring new
 skills 
related
 to 
marketing
 performance 
measurement
 and 
management,
 analytics, 
benchmarking,
 and
 customer
 engagement. 
 Let’s review 
these 
four 
specific
 skills
 every
 marketer
 should 
have 
under 
their 
belt:

• 
Metrics
 and 
performance 
target‐setting. With
 greater
 demand
 for
 marketing 
to 
be 
more
 accountable,
 solid 
metrics, 
performance 
target‐setting,
 measurement,
 and 
reporting skills  
are
 crucial.
 Participants 
in 
numerous
 studies 
comment
 on 
the 
importance 
of
 being 
able 
to 
set
 measurable 
goals
 and 
track 
results. 
These
 skills
 will 
be 
in 
vogue 
for 
a 
long 
time 
to
 come.

•
 Analytics.
This 
is 
the 
ability 
to 
derive 
insights 
from 
data. 
If
 growing 
valuable 
customer relationships
 and 
being
 able 
to 
forecast
 sales 
from 
future
 marketing
 activities 
are 
important,
 then 
analytics 
ought 
to 
be 
on 
the 
top
 of 
your 
skills‐to‐acquired 
list.

•
 Benchmarking.
This 
is 
the 
process
 of
 comparing 
what
 your
 company 
does 
to
 another 
that
 is 
widely 
considered
 to 
be
 an 
industry 
standard 
or 
best 
practice. 
The aforementioned
 CMO 
Council
 study 
indicated
 58
 percent 
of 
respondents 
have 
nominal 
or no 
benchmarking 
capabilities. 
If 
you 
don’t 
know 
what
 the
 standard 
is,
 how 
will 
you 
know 
what
 to 
strive 
for 
when 
it 
comes 
to
 such 
things 
as
 win/loss 
ratios, marketing 
key performance 
indicators,
share
 of 
preference,
 product
 adoption 
rates, and 
so
 on?
 Benchmarks
 are 
essential 
to
 any organization 
that
 believes 
continuous 
improvement
 is
 critical 
to 
the 
pursuit 
of excellence.

•
 Customer 
experience 
management. 
If 
business 
exists 
to 
produce 
and
 serve 
a
 customer,
 and 
marketing’s 
job 
is 
to 
create,
 communicate, and
 deliver 
value 
to 
customers, 
then
 marketing 
is
 your
 organization’s 
ultimate 
steward 
of
 the 
customer
 experience.
 Marketers 
need 
to 
be
 sure 
they 
have 
the
 skills 
necessary 
to 
improve 
customer
 engagement
 and
 touch-
point 
effectiveness. 
They
 also 
must respond 
to 
changes in 
the 
buying
 cycle
 and
 conduct
 voice‐of‐customer 
research in
 order 
to 
retain
 customers, 
create 
loyalty,
 and 
transform 
customers 
into
 advocates 
for the
 company.

Marketing 
operations 
refers 
to 
infrastructure — that 
is,
 the 
tools, 
systems, 
and
 processes in 
place 
to 
facilitate 
customer‐centricity.
 Forty‐four
 percent
 of
 the
 respondents in the CMO 
Council
 study 
are looking 
for 
way 
to 
lower
 costs 
and 
improve 
go‐to‐market 
efficiencies. 
For
 many 
organizations,
 achieving these 
operational
 efficiencies 
requires 
infrastructure changes 
and 
improvements.

With 
limited 
resources, 
where 
can
 you 
get the 
best
 bang
 for 
your
 buck?
 Here
 are 
four
 areas
 for 
investment 
consideration:

1. Operational
 process 
alignment.
 When 
was 
the 
last 
time
 you 
mapped 
your 
operational 
processes 
and 
verified 
marketing 
alignment
 with 
the
 sales,
 product,
 service,
 and
 other 
parts
 of
 the
 business?
 All 
of
 us 
get 
into 
routines 
and 
habits.
 Reviewing 
processes 
and
 updating 
them 
may 
be 
time consuming, 
but 
if
 you 
are 
looking 
for
 ways 
to
 reduce 
inefficiencies 
internally, 
this 
is a
 necessary step.

Many
 years 
ago,
 when 
I
 was 
in 
the
 semiconductor 
industry,
 we
 needed 
to 
find
 a 
way 
to 
reduce 
the 
time 
from 
order 
to 
delivery
 of
 product.
 It
 was 
just 
taking 
too 
long 
to 
get
 product 
to 
customers,
and
 we
 didn’t
 know 
why.
 When 
we calculated 
the 
time 
it 
took 
for
 the 
individual
 steps 
of
 order 
placement, 
manufacturing,
 testing ,
assembly, 
and
 shipping, 
the 
time 
didn’t
 add 
up 
to 
what 
it
 actually 
took.

So
 we 
mapped
 the 
process, 
counting 
the 
time 
product
 was 
”in‐transit,”
 whether 
physically 
or 
in
 some
 other 
way.
 Lo
 and 
behold, 
the 
in‐transit
 time
 was 
off
 the 
charts.
 The
 mapping 
process 
enabled 
us 
to 
identify 
the 
inefficiencies,
 label the white spaces,
and 
put 
in 
new
 processes 
to 
reduce
 and
 even 
eliminate 
them.

2.Market/Business 
intelligence. 
There 
is 
an 
art
 and
 science 
to 
using 
external 
information 
for 
driving 
business 
strategy. 
Business 
intelligence 
applications 
enable 
the
 collection,
 integration,
 analysis, 
and
 presentation
 of
 competitive,
 channel, 
product,
 and 
customer 
information 
to 
derive 
trends 
and 
insights.
 The 
value
 of
 having
 such 
a 
tool 
is 
that, 
when 
used 
properly, it
 enables 
you 
to 
begin 
conducting
 scenario 
analyses
 and
 anticipating 
the
 future.
 With 
the 
insights
 derived
 from 
business 
intelligence,
 there 
is 
the
 potential 
to 
anticipate 
the 
development 
of
 new
 markets, technological
 turning 
points,
 and 
how 
the 
competitor 
will react.

3. CRM. 
If 
the 
marketing
 organization 
is 
responsible 
for 
the 
relationship 
between 
the
company 
and
 the 
customer,
 then 
it
 stands 
to 
reason 
the 
organization
 needs 
tools 
to 
facilitate 
this 
relationship.
 As 
you 
know, 
there 
are 
a
 range
 of
 CRM 
tools
 out
 there,
 so 
selecting
 the 
right
 one
 can 
be 
a
 daunting 
task.
 Even
 so,
 in 
today’s 
environment
 a
 company
 can’t
 afford
 to 
operate
 without 
a
 formal
 approach
 to
 customer
 relationship 
management.
 Of
 course,
 once
 you 
have 
the 
tool
, the
 next
 biggest
 hurdle 
is 
using 
it.

4.
 Performance 
management.
 The 
ability 
to 
use 
analytics, 
reporting, 
and
 dashboards 
to 
assess
 marketing’s
 effectiveness, efficiency, 
financial
 contribution,
 and
 progress 
toward
 achieving 
pre-determined
 goals 
is 
performance 
management. 
In 
the 
end, 
marketing
 must
 demonstrate 
its
 value, 
which 
lies 
in
 how much you are “moving 
the 
needle.” This 
necessitates 
reporting
 on
 performance, impact, 
and
 ROI from
 the
 program 
level 
up.

Progress 
doesn’t
 come 
without
 missteps,
 misfires,
 and failures.
 Winners 
look 
for
 ways to overcome
 challenges
 and
 continuously 
improve.
 They
 seek
 outside 
help,
 new 
ideas,
 and new 
skills.
 While
 attending 
a
 Webinar,
 reading 
a 
book, 
or
 going 
to
 a
 conference 
helps, consider 
looking
 for
 ways 
that
 will
 enable 
the 
whole 
team 
to 
be 
on 
the 
same 
page
 at the
 same
 time. 
There are 
plenty 
of 
on-site
 and 
online 
programs
 offered 
by 
professional
 organizations 
and 
institutions, as 
well
 as
 by 
firms 
specializing 
in these 
areas.

In 
Wolfe’s 
story, 
the 
national 
heroes 
of 
the 
Mercury 
space 
program 
were 
not
 necessarily 
the 
truest 
and
 best. 
What 
they
 possessed
 was 
the 
right
 stuff, the
 skill
 and 
courage 
to 
”push 
the
 outside 
of
 the
 envelope.”
 Does 
your
 marketing 
team
 have 
the 
right 
stuff?

Power Tools-Use with Caution

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The results from the marketing performance research recently conducted jointly by ITSMA and VisionEdge Marketing (VEM), and Forrester were just announced. In its 12th year, the purpose of this study has been to understand how proficient marketers are at measuring and managing performance; using metrics, data, and analytics; and communicating marketing’s value, impact and contribution to the business. This year’s study captured input from more than 400 respondents. The study revealed areas in which marketers have made strides and areas where marketers remain challenged.Image

The result I found most perplexing was that, while marketers have access to more data than ever, leverage more analytics, and invest in more tools and systems, they continue to struggle to prove marketing’s contribution to the business. One clear indicator of this is that just 9% of CEOs and 6% of CFOs use marketing data to help make strategic decisions. Less than 10%! Although the majority of the marketers regularly produce and share a marketing dashboard, they are not bringing valuable, useful information to the table.

So where’s the disconnect? If you want your leadership team to understand how marketing is moving the needle in terms of top line revenue, market share, customer value, category ownership, and so on then the dashboard needs to be able to tell that story. Unfortunately, it appears that most marketers participating in the study use their marketing automation (MAP) or sales automation (CRM) systems to create their dashboards. In fact, dashboards and reports are already integrated into many of these systems. These dashboards, however, typically report on marketing activity and associated costs – email activity, website activity, social media activity, lead activity- rather than reporting on metrics executives can to set direction. It’s not that these reports and dashboards are bad; they are valuable when used to support tactical decisions, but if you want your CEO, CFO and other members of the C-Suite to use your dashboard it must clearly connect marketing investments and initiatives to business outcomes and results.

The ability to push a button and generate a pretty report that doesn’t add any value to the strategic decisions made at the C-Suite level doesn’t serve marketing well. To be on the right track, you need to start by making sure the marketing initiatives and investments are clearly aligned to business outcomes and that you have the right metrics in place. Otherwise, investing in better marketing tools is akin to buying a power saw when you have yet to master a hand saw. You have the ability to do more damage faster.

Learn more about the survey results and some initial impressions at: