• November 26, 2019
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Forrester Uncovers Customer-Marketing Disconnect

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When marketers began to build customer profiles and personalize interactions, they had good intentions, but inadvertently, many of those efforts have led to creepy and even harmful experiences, Forrester Research contends in a new report.

Based on its research, Forrester urges marketing executives to reevaluate the fundamental assumptions on which their marketing programs are built and steer their teams back on track to win, serve, and retain customers and regain their faith.

“Marketers need to champion improved [customer experience] for their brands if they want the growth they crave. We also recommend that they start such CX evangelization close to home, with their own marketing experiences. In addition to improving product and service experiences, brands need to improve their customers’ experience of being marketed to—by a lot,” writes Brigitte Majewski, a Forrester vice president and research director and one of the authors of the report.

A big part of the problem, the report says, is “dissonance” that has resulted from the fact that many of the tools and ideas at marketers’ disposal are great on their own, but they aren’t being orchestrated together in an effective, customer-centric way that can move the needle.

And then, too, the technology is evolving faster than most marketing organizations can evaluate, synthesize, and leverage, the report also notes.

As proof of this, Forrester reports that in surveys of marketing leaders on 20 marketing innovations at their organizations, nearly three in four said that their company’s use of them was mature. “But in our own assessment of those same marketers, 68 percent of respondents received results that put them squarely in the beginner stage,” according to Majewski.

Marketers are also failing in their use of personalization, the report argues. It notes that with all of the customer data that marketers use to personalize, “the one thing they seem to have forgotten to find out from consumers is whether they even want personalized communications at all,” Majewski writes.

Majewski points to recent Forrester data that showed only 27 percent of U.S. online adults say they’re willing to let retailers use their personal information to personalize experiences.

But even those who want personalization are let down by today’s clunky executions, she adds, noting that many firms fail to fully connect the data dots and follow up with customers to understand if they receive value from company communications.

Audience-based targeting is another area where the disconnect is obvious, according to Majewski. She urges moving beyond basic demographic targeting around age, gender, and income to include many other details.

Marketing might have lost its customer obsession as leaders yield to short-term pressures, Majewski believes, pointing to recent Forrester research that found that while marketers know they should balance short- and long-term goals, many sacrifice long-term results for short-term gains. “The result is a promotion- or direct marketing-heavy plan that over-focuses on short-term goals like sales that are executed in ways that repel prospects and customers,” she concludes.

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