Last week at Forrester's Forum For Marketing Leaders in San Francisco, we bid farewell once and for all to old marketing — the marketing of campaigns, outbound messaging, and funnels. In its place, we unveiled a new and improved customer life cycle: the blue print for customer obsession. Attendees got a sneak preview of the content, but all clients have access as of today to a new report, which elevates the life cycle from its marketing home and into the whole enterprise. As your customers take a very nonlinear approach to getting what they want out of their brand relationships, companies must put the customer at the heart of everything they do to create contextual, useful engagement. The customer life cycle involves the entire brand experience, from messaging to product usage and ongoing interactions, and incorporates the ongoing relationship firms must have with customers, making it the marketing vision that will drive CMOs' success in the age of the customer.
The new version has two new phases — use and ask — that, with the original four phases, more completely captures the entire relationship a customer has with a brand.
IBM has announced its intent to acquire marketing automation company Silverpop for an undisclosed sum. This acquisition is — on the surface — just another tactical play by a large marketing technology vendor to bring on additional capabilities to support a strategic platform narrative. While Forrester clients can look for our analysis of this announcement in a forthcoming Quick Take — which I will be publishing in collaboration with my colleague Lori Wizdo — Forrester’s initial thought on the news is that we’re not surprised. Given that the various competitors in this space have been adding capabilities left and right through acquisitions, IBM is simply doing the same — checking the box to build out an expansive product line portfolio. The marketing automation vendor landscape (both business-to-business [B2B] and business-to-consumer) shrinks further, and we continue to wait for examples and proof that these mega vendors can deliver the integration they promise.
About a year ago, I wrote a gentle but firm breakup letter from CMOs to the marketing funnel. They have a more attractive love interest who is in the relationship for the long haul; the perfect partner for the age of the customer. For many, calling it quits with the marketing funnel has been messy and difficult, leaving a lot of marketers desperate to move on, but pulled back to the familiar, comfortable arms of linear, campaign-driven, transaction-oriented marketing.
Like your best friend who was willing to be patient and forgiving as you repeatedly returned to your ex, it’s time I throw down the gauntlet: Commit to the customer life cycle or be left behind by your peers who get that the terms of engagement have changed. Loyalty, context, and relevance are the new black as customers outrun campaigns, have heightened expectations for brand interactions, and use mobile technology at remarkable scale. This is not the customer Elias St. Elmo Lewis was dealing with. Fundamentally different customer behavior demands new tools.
In the age of the customer, companies must be customer-obsessed, putting knowledge of and engagement with customers ahead of all other strategic and budget priorities. The customer life cycle is the framework that puts the customer at the heart of all activities, allowing the customers’ unique context and set of interactions define what their brand experience is.
About a year ago, I wrote a gentle but firm breakup letter from CMOs to the marketing funnel. They have a more attractive love interest who is in the relationship for the long haul; the perfect partner for the age of the customer. For many, calling it quits with the marketing funnel has been messy and difficult, leaving a lot of marketers desperate to move on, but pulled back to the familiar comfortable arms of linear, campaign-driven, transaction-oriented marketing.
January is the month of renewed goals and better-you resolutions. Machines and classes at the gym are packed, diet and weight loss books are flying off shelves (or onto tablets), and money-saving commitments are redoubled. These are some of the more common New Year’s resolutions and, not surprisingly, are also some of those most commonly broken. The right thing to do is neither easy nor sustainable. To borrow from the poem that inspired Steinbeck, “the best laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry . . .”
Many enterprises run into this conundrum when it comes to customer experience. They talk a big game about their resolve to master the discipline of customer experience but then let existing organizational structures, budget priorities, and operational processes provide excuses that limit progress.
Today, I published a new report, “The Convergence Of Brand, Customer Experience, and Marketing,” in which I lay out the new paradigm for the connection between these three disciplines. I also offer three roles for the CMO to play in aligning brand, CX, and marketing — a strategic imperative that CMOs must take on or risk irrelevance in a world driven by the customer’s needs and wants.
"A central technology hub that allows marketers to manage every interaction between the company and its customers as they progress along the customer life cycle."
There is a diverse group of vendors vying to become customer life-cycle marketing systems (CLCMS) providers, in large part due to demand from marketers to reduce complexity in their technology roster and help them make the shift from the marketing funnel to a customer life-cycle-driven discipline. Friday's not-especially-unexpected news from Oracle further reinforces the conclusions in our report. The press release succinctly makes the point:
"The addition of Responsys extends Oracle's Customer Experience Cloud, which includes Commerce, Sales, Service, Social, and the Oracle Marketing Cloud. By bringing together Responsys and Oracle Eloqua in the Marketing Cloud, for the first time CMOs that support industries with B2C or B2B business models will be equipped to drive exceptional customer experiences across marketing interactions and through the customer lifecycle from a single platform."
After one of the biggest announcements in the marketing technology space of 2013 — Salesforce.com's purchase of ExactTarget — few were surprised to see the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud feature prominently at Dreamforce last week in San Francisco. But the real headline grabber was the introduction of Salesforce1, a cloud-based platform for what the company calls the "Internet of customers." We've got a deeper look into the implications of this for marketers for Forrester clients, but some of our key takeaways were that Salesforce:
Gets the age of the customer and what it means for their products. CEO Marc Benioff spoke at length about the "customers behind the devices" and the importance of engaging with those individuals, rather than the things they use to connect to the Web. We are in what Forrester calls the age of the customer, where "the most successful enterprises reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers." The Salesforce1 vision is to be the technology engine behind those firms — and the announcement takes a big step in that direction.
Earlier this year, I penned a break-up letter on behalf of CMOs to the marketing funnel. Though some chief marketers initially were a little reluctant to follow through, in new research published today, we see that the vast majority of marketers recognize that the customer life cycle (CLC) is their partner of the future. In "The State Of Customer Life Cycle Marketing, 2013," (subscription required), we share the results from our July 2013 North American Customer Life-Cycle Marketing Online Survey of 80 senior marketers, a highlight of which is that marketers are overwhelmingly picking the CLC for all their customer-obsessed marketing activities (see figure).
In addition to getting a pulse on where companies are in their transition to a customer-first approach to marketing, we also used our assessment (subscription required) to benchmark performance on the five key dimensions of customer life-cycle marketing: strategy, organization, data and analytics, measurement, and technology. We find that:
Very few marketers can be considered leaders today. Only 13% of respondents can be considered leaders, and they have aligned strategy, organization, and data to drive their success. Laggards, those with the most to work on, make up 41% of the respondents, while aspirers were the vast majority, with 46% of respondents moving actively toward customer obsession.
I love September. American and European football are back, allowing me to spend a large (but who’s counting?) amount of time watching uniform-clad fellows run around across expanses of green in front of raucous crowds. Soccer in particular has an unparalleled beauty to it: an exquisite orchestration of movement and ingenuity that, at least to my mind, no other sport can match. The brains behind the on-field talent are the team managers, who understand formations and strategies and how to measure results beyond wins and losses.
Soccer managers have a lot in common with today’s CMOs. Both must understand how to succeed in a global context, deploy a diverse set of skills to greatest effect, and create an experience for fans that sets them apart from the crowd. Luckily for CMOs, today they get their very own playbook! I’m thrilled to announce the launch of the Customer Life Cycle Marketing Playbook (subscription required), designed to help chief marketing officers transform their organizations to become customer-obsessed, a requirement for competitive success in the age of the customer. By changing the game from the marketing funnel to creating and activating a customer-life-cycle-driven marketing strategy, CMOs will deliver value that is visible to the customer and position the brand for long-term success. We've organized the playbook to help CMOs:
I was driving home from work the other day and listening, as usual, to Boston's National Public Radio station, WBUR, when a story came on about the push for doctors and hospitals to go digital by turning patient records into electronic health records (EHRs). There are a lot of tricky challenges that come with digitizing these documents: hundreds of products on the market to help with the effort, a steep upfront cost, lower productivity on day to day tasks while the system is implemented, the cost of accompanying hardware and maintenance, and a learning curve for doctors, nurses, and other staff. But as one of the office managers said for the story, the biggest challenge is actually "having everybody have a positive attitude to do it. If we can all keep positive and get through it and learn it...I think we'll be okay." Supporters of this effort cite improved cost and better, more efficient care - a win for all stakeholders - but in the early stages, it's hard for some to see tangible improvements.